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Music for Solo Clarinet
Guido López GAVILÁN (b.1944)
Clariloquio (2008) [7:31]
Alessandra RAVERA (b.1977)
La scatola del tempo (2006) [4:49]
Antonio FRAIOLI (b.1966)
4 Pezzi (2012) [7:56]
I miei occhi (2017) [5:06]
William O SMITH (b.1922)
Meditations (1990) [5:06]
Five Pieces (1959) [7:33]
Bruno BETTINELLI (1933-2004)
Studio da concerto (1971) [6:36]
Giacinto SCELSI (1905-1988)
Ixor II (1954) [4:11]
Giovanni MATTALIANO (b.1969)
Zeta World (2011) [1:14]
Josč Daniel Cirigliano (clarinet)
rec. 2017, Suoneria Mediterranea, Fuscaldo, Italy
TACTUS TC930002 [52:35]

Encompassing Scelsi’s Ixor II in 1954 to Antonio Fraioli’s 2017 I miei occhi, this disc ranges across over 60 years of (largely) Italian solo clarinet music. The odd man out is American-born William Overton Smith, co-opted by virtue of the six years he spent living and working in the country after having won the Prix de Rome in 1957. He also took part in the premiere of the first Ixor and many other ground-breaking Italian works.

Josč Daniel Cirigliano has selected the programme with care, and it reveals many facets of both the avant-garde and of more sinuous contemporary elements. Take, for example, Guido López Gavilán’s Clariloquio, composed in 2008, and fully cognisant of the latest techniques but which nevertheless seems to hint at Rhapsody in Blue at one point and courses with ruminative descriptive passages – lively, communicative and full of esprit. Alessandra Ravera’s piece calls for the bass clarinet and is colouristic, timbral but not sepulchral. Fraioli’s Four Pieces investigate things tonal and modal, the first being fast and free with added warmth of expression, and the third a deft and brisk scherzo. I miei occhi – the title relates to his retina detachment – has a darting, piercing quality, intensified by the sound coming out of alternating left and right hand channels; in concert the performer is instructed to turn from one side of the audience to the other to simulate partial vision and this has been realistically accomplished in this recording.. There is some vocal humming as well.

Smith’s Meditations was written for demi-clarinet – which is what it sounds like; the lower half of the instrument. The result is augmented by spoken texts drawn from Marcus Aurelius. If this all sounds stereotypically ridiculous, the result is rather less so, though the conjunction of the two is not always easy to absorb. Smith’s Five Pieces are much earlier, dating from 1959, and offer a suite-like elegance, somewhat indebted to Bartók. The standout is the penultimate piece, a singing, fulsome and yet delicately refined piece of great beauty though the finale is brilliantly exciting. Scelsi’s Ixor II for bass clarinet offers four minutes of deft space, its texture intensified by curlicues of aerial clarity. Finally, there is Giovanni Mattaliano’s Zeta World, composed in 2011, a suitably bright and bravura finale that laps up brief elements of contemporary musical zeitgeist with great flair.

Excellently recorded and documented this disc, spearheaded by the devoted and technically fearless Cirigliano, makes for a fine concert in its own right.

Jonathan Woolf

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