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Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918–1990)
Clarinet Sonata (1941-42) [10:11]
Salvador BROTONS (b. 1959)
Clarinet Sonata, op.46 (1988) [14:00]
Alban BERG (1985–1935)
Vier Stücke, op.5 (1913) [7:31]
Arnold BAX (1883–1953)
Clarinet Sonata in D (1934) [13:25]
Esa–Pekka SALONEN (b. 1958)
Nachtlieder (1978) [8:19]
Arthur HONEGGER (1892–1955)
Clarinet Sonatina (1921/1922) [5:24]
Cristo Barrios (clarinet); Clinton Cormany (piano)
rec. 26-28 October 2007, Concert Hall, Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Canarias, Tenerife. DDD
METIER MSV28505 [57:53]
Experience Classicsonline

Born in Tenerife, Cristo Barrios is a multiple award winning clarinettist who studied with, amongst others, Richard Stoltzman. He can certainly play and this very varied recital gives him ample opportunity to display us his abilities.
Bernstein’s Sonata is his op. 1 and it’s a jolly piece, with lots of good humour and tricky corners for the player. I’m not a great lover of Bernstein the composer – unless he’s on Broadway – but this little work is a gem and would grace any recital in which it was played.
Salvador Brotons is a name new to me, but he has an impressive pedigree. As well as being a composer, Brotons has been conductor and Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra since 1991. Born into a family of musicians in Barcelona, Brotons studied both at home and in the USA on a Fulbright Scholarship. He’s played flute in the Orquestra del Teatre del Liceu de Barcelona and the Orquestra Ciutat de Barcelona (1981–1985), whilst as a composer he’s written over 80 works and received fifteen composition awards. This Sonata, which is in two movements, is very well written for the two instruments, is very pleasant but doesn’t really go anywhere. It sits rather uncomfortably between Bernstein and Berg whose Vier Stücke, op.5 are given very subtle performances, and this suits the elusiveness of the music very well. Almost Webernian in their concision, but nowhere near as angular as that master, Barrios really brings out the lyrical side of the music, especially in the final, Langsam, movement.

Then comes Arnold Bax’s Sonata, full of fresh Englishness, I’ve never felt the Irish connection here. Barrios plays this well and understands that the first movement is the most intimate music on the disk and he holds back in his delivery. In the very fast, helter–skelter scherzo he lets go and really relishes the challenges the composer has given him. The quiet ending is quite magical.
Esa–Pekka Salonen’s Nachtlieder is the product of a very young man and they are aphoristic in their utterance. Salonen is feeling his way here, and the music is reminiscent of Boulez and Webern, but there’s always the feeling that here is a new and original voice finding itself. We now know what this man is capable of and it’s exciting to hear how it all started.
Honegger’s Sonatine is a product of his days with Les Six. Although you’d never guess it from the first two movements – they are quite dark and penetrating in their sombre way. The finale leaves you in no doubt as to the origin of the music and in a mere 82 seconds the whole of Paris in the jazz age is summed up with admirable economy and precision.
It must be said that this is a most unusual recital with programming which, on paper at least, shouldn’t really work. However, with such fine playing from both musicians, every piece comes alive and speaks in its own voice as music which has grown from a tradition and is continuing it into the next generation.
The sound is good, with a wide spread for the two players. The excellent notes are in English, Spanish, French and German. Most enjoyable.
Bob Briggs


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