Collection: Pal Niente

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COMPOSERS: Berio,Boulez,Lachenmann,Stockhausen,Stravinsky
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Music for solo clarinet
PERFORMER: Eduard Brunner (clarinet)
CATALOGUE NO: 453 257-2

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Although a disc comprising seventy minutes of 20th-century music for solo clarinet might be thought to appeal to enthusiasts only, there is such an enormous range of sounds contained within these pieces that one’s attention is held throughout. The repertoire spans almost the entire century and, while omitting the pieces by Berio, includes most of the other seminal works of this type. The earliest is Stravinsky’s classic Three Pieces, which are well known to all clarinet players, whereas the same composer’s extraordinary miniature, Piece for Clarinet Solo, which dates from 1917 and comprises just five bars of music, was new to me.

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Domaines by Pierre Boulez is also an important part of the repertoire which, despite its pertinent comments on serial thinking, remains, for me, rather too cerebral. The same cannot be said of Stockhausen’s In Freundschaft, where the structure and direction of the material is more apparent on first hearing, or Helmut Lachenmann’s fascinating Dal nients (Interieur III), which exploits the entire spectrum of possibilities available to the clarinet and explores what is described as the ‘unlit side of sound’. Eduard Brunner’s playing is generally excellent, though unintended breath noises are distracting, especially since some of these pieces actually specify breath sounds as an effect. Tim Payne