Fabio Di Casola
is a Swiss clarinettist and apart from one work, that of André
Jolivet, all the tracks on this CD are by contemporary Swiss
'Elegia e burlesca' was originally for clarinet and
piano and given the title 'Romanza e Scherzo'. These two movements
were written especially for Di Casola and are well performed.
The Elegia is a lyrical, singing movement and Di Casola
produces a beautiful, if rather thin tone, which is very clear,
with no vibrato. This tone is very different to the English
clarinet sound and may not appeal to all. Di Casola also has
a tendency to produce an undertone in the upper register. The
Burlesca is in a swinging 6/8 time. Di Casola produces
some neat staccato tonguing and explores the whole range of
the clarinet. Again he needs to be careful about producing undertones.
Hans Ulrich Lehmann
is another Swiss composer who studied in Basle with Boulez and
Stockhausen. His works are indebted to Boulez in their measured
sonorities and serial organization. Here his 'Mosaik' for solo
clarinet is performed. This is quite an early example of Lehmann's
work and these sounds were very new at the time in 1964. The
work begins with a long single note and then explores the whole
range of the clarinet. The contrasts of mood are well exploited
by the use of flutter- and slap-tonguing - an extremely new
technique for clarinettists at the time. The hitting of extra
keys to produce timbral effects was also in its early days at
is widely regarded throughout Europe as one of the most important
Swiss composers of his generation. So, we come to 1984 with
'Assonance'. Quite frankly I don't think that much has changed
since 1964. We are still exploring new clarinet techniques –
slap-and flutter-tonguing. Harmonics remain an area to be explored.
Di Casola needs to work on this. However his technique is impressive
and the introduction to multi-phonics is welcome.
'O Star' by David
Philip Hefti was written in December 2003 and dedicated to the
German clarinettist, Wolfgang Meyer. The title is an anagram
of his clarinet concerto 'SATOR'. Entire passages from the concerto
are quoted with new motifs providing a colourful mosaic and
tremendous contrasts. The work is divided into three parts.
The first is a lyrical introduction leading to a wild and piercing
vivace and presto. Once again I feel Di Casola
needs to be careful of undertones. A quarter tone trill leads
to the second part which consists of passages in free time alternating
with strictly organized bars. This part demonstrates Di Casola
at his finest with superb slap-tonguing, good bending of the
notes and flutter-tonguing. The last section is calm with changing
timbres and multiphonics. Di Casola's best performance yet on
The René Gerber
'Prelude and Fugue on the name BACH' is a great solo piece for
young clarinettists as an introduction to twentieth century
music. At the time it was written, 1935, the clarinettist Bernard
Bellay who was the principal clarinettist in the Orchestre de
la Suisse Romande, claimed it was too difficult to play! So
it was not resurrected until 1975 by the clarinettist René Goffin.
In this day and age it is not technically impossible and is
often used as a competition piece. Here Di Casola gives a good
performance which is often marred by loud breathing and untidy
tongue/finger co-ordination in the Fugue.
wrote 'Alcuni particolari oscuri' - 'Some dark particular' -
in 1983. The original timing was four minutes so Di Casola plays
it quite slowly here. However it is still very effective. The
piece owes a lot to the composer Gerard Grisey who was dominant
in the French trend of 'spectral music' in the 1970s. Spectral
music introduces tone colours between harmonic overtures and
noise! Grisey was fascinated by the process which unfolded slowly
and made musical time a major element. This is demonstrated
superbly here by the repeated pulse played on a single note
throughout. Pagliarini had obviously just heard the new clarinet
' techniques' as there is one example of slap-tonguing at the
end. Great stuff!
The 'Drei stucke
for solo clarinette' Op.71 by Gian Antoni Derungs were written
in 1977 for the clarinettist René Oswald who wanted more demanding
music! The first piece, 'Fantasia' is full of improvisatory,
rhythmic freedom with an introduction to flutter-tonguing. However,
once again Di Casola's breathing is very loud. The second movement
'Quasi Ciacona' is played on the A Clarinet. With its deep resonances
and timbre the A clarinet sounds wonderful here. The third movement
is a Scherzo which is full of small motifs and repetitions.
It can be very mechanical at times using expansive arpeggios.
Again Di Casola needs to be aware of undertones with his tonguing
in the clarion register.
'Asceses' for clarinet
is a very minor work by the only French composer on the CD -
André Jolivet. In 1936 Jolivet formed the group 'La jeune France'
along with other French composers such as Messiaen, who wanted
a more human and less abstract form of composition. All hated
neo-classicism and serialism. So the innovation in this composition
is in the direction of new forms of modulation and rhythms.
The work consists of five contrasting movements preceded by
poetic quotations. Well performed by Di Casola here.
An interesting CD
for modern clarinet specialists and probably an essential. Di
Casola is a very fine artist and has done well to bring contemporary
Swiss composers to the fore.