Corigliano, Zwilich, Tower, Sheng & Adolphe

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COMPOSERS: Corigliano,Sheng & Adolphe,Tower,Zwilich
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Five American Clarinet Quintets
WORKS: Works by Corigliano, Zwilich, Tower, Sheng & Adolphe
PERFORMER: David Shifrin (clarinet); Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
This two-CD set offers a survey of music written or adapted over the last ten years for one particular medium by five composers of the same nationality and reveals an interesting diversity of stylistic approach. The playing, both individually and in ensemble terms, is impressive with effortless virtuosity and extreme contrasts of dynamics resulting in very commanding performances. Each of the five composers represented has a distinctive voice and, as would perhaps be expected of the late 20th-century music, draws on influences from a vast range of sources.


Two of the most immediately accessible pieces here provide a case in point: Bright Sheng has overtly based his Concertino for clarinet and string quartet on folk music from the northwest of China and uses the piece as a specific experiment in fusing Asian and Western styles, while Bruce Adolphe’s attrative At the still point, there the dance is is to some extent, reminiscent of John Adams in its harmonies and allusion to minimalism. The only work included here not actually composed during the last decade is John Corigliano’s Soliloquy which is an adaptation of the slow movement of his 1977 Clarinet Concerto and, as a moving tribute to his late father, features a beautiful dialogue between clarinet and violin. Tim Payne