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Fabio Di Casola (clarinet)
Musica per clarinetto solo
Pietro DAMIANI (b.1933)
Elegia e Burlesca (1980) [7.46] (1. Elegia [5.23]; 2. Burlesca [2.23])
Hans Ulrich LEHMANN (b.1937)
Mosaik for Solo Clarinet (1971) [6.49]
Michael JARRELL (b.1958)
Assonance for solo clarinet (1984) [9.48]
David Philip HEFTI (b.1975)
O, star! for Solo Clarinet (2003) [11.01]
Rene GERBER (b.1908)
Prelude and Fugue on the name 'BACH' for solo clarinet (1979) [7.51] (1. Prelude [4.14]; 2. Fugue [3.37])
Mario PAGLIARINI (b.1963)
Alcuni particolari oscuri for solo clarinet (1983) [4.39]
Gion Antoni DERUNGS (b.1935)
Drei Stucke fur Klarinette solo, op.71 (1977) [12.18] (1. Fantasia [4.00]; 2. Quasi Ciacona [4.36]; 3. Scherzo [3.41])
Andre JOLIVET (1905-1970)
Asceses pour clarinet (1965-70) [16.34]
Fabio Di Casola (clarinet)
rec. Radiostudio Lugano, Basel, Zurich 1991-2006
MUSIQUES SUISSES MGB CTS-M 103 [77.23]

 


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 composers.

Pietro Damiani's '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 this time.

Michael Jarrell 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 this CD.

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.

Marco Pagliarini 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.

Lynda Baker

 


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