Hindemith, Schoeck, Sluka, Rehak, Heucke & Sšll

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COMPOSERS: Heucke & Söll,Hindemith,Rehak,Schoeck,Sluka
LABELS: Clarinet Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Music for Bass Clarinet & Piano
WORKS: Works by Hindemith, Schoeck, Sluka, Rehak, Heucke & Söll
PERFORMER: Henri Bok (bass clarinet), Rainer Klaas (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CC 0026
This interesting survey of music for bass clarinet covers most of the 20th century with both original and transcribed works written between 1928 and 1998, including three composed specially by Henri Bok. The two transcriptions, made by the Czech virtuoso Joseph Horak, were both sanctioned by the composers and constitute important additions to the small extant repertoire. The sonatas by Hindemith and Sluka, originally written for bassoon and cello respectively, transfer beautifully to bass clarinet, since both pieces are more concerned with musical ideas than specific instrumental timbres.

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Lubos Sluka is best known for his film scores and his Sonata, written in 1956, concentrates on expressive lyricism, affording a rare opportunity for the bass clarinet to demonstrate this underrated side of its character. At the other end of the stylistic spectrum is Stefan Heucke’s impressive Sonata, commissioned in 1995 by Henri Bok, which exploits the enormous range of this instrument and creates some extraordinary sounds using effects such as slap tongue, multiphonics and quartertones in conjunction with plucked piano strings. The only disappointment is the unconvincing performance of Othmar Schoeck’s Sonata, one of the earliest works to feature this instrument, which here suffers from contrived phrasing and seems over-mannered. Tim Payne