Cardew, Hobbs, Smith, White & Childs

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Cardew,Hobbs,Smith,White & Childs
LABELS: Black Box
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Edge of the World
WORKS: Works for bass clarinet and keyboards
PERFORMER: Ian Mitchell (bass clarinet), Christopher Hobbs (keyboards)
These pieces, five of which here receive their world premiere recordings, were composed between 1977 and 1988 and provide an enormously important contribution to the repertoire of the bass clarinet. They cover a huge range of musical styles and employ virtually every conceivable playing technique resulting in a collection which is both challenging and appealing. The constantly changing sound-worlds ensure that the listener remains engaged throughout, thereby avoiding the familiar tendency for such recitals to be purely cerebral rather than entertaining. The stylistic extremes here are represented by Chris Hobbs’s delightful diatonic miniatures at one end of the spectrum and the ferociously complex avant-garde music of Barney Childs’s The Edge of the World, coincidentally both heavily jazz-influenced but diametrically opposed in every other respect. Hobbs’s Seventeen One-Minute Pieces deliberately features a now outdated synthesizer whose rather crude sounds are central to its ‘period charm’, while Childs’s piece, scored for bass clarinet and organ, includes sections of free improvisation which exploit the altissimi register of the bass clarinet to startlingly dramatic effect. Ian Mitchell’s playing is outstanding, combining control and beauty of tone with apparently effortless disregard of the fearsome technical demands. This should be essential listening for all enthusiasts. Tim Payne