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]
(clarinet); Clinton Cormany (piano)
rec. 26-28 October 2007, Concert Hall, Conservatorio
Superior de Musica de Canarias, Tenerife. DDD METIER
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.
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
The sound is good, with a wide spread for the two players. The excellent
notes are in English, Spanish, French and German. Most
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