Carter, Reich, Sandroff & Adams

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COMPOSERS: Carter,Reich,Sandroff & Adams
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: American Clarinet
WORKS: Works by Carter, Reich, Sandroff & Adams
PERFORMER: Alain Damiens, André Trouttet (clarinet); Ensemble InterContemporain/David Robertson
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45351 2
This set, aiming to show the diversity of late 20th century american musical styles, comprises music predominantly written during the 1990s and centres around the elder statesman of american modernism, Elliot Carter. His typically rigorous and uncompromising Clarinet Concerto, written in 1996, demands considerable virtuosity from the soloist Alain Damiens who gives an impressive performance here. The earliest work on the disc, Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint for eleven multi-tracked clarinets, dates from 1985 and is arguably the most popular example of contemporary clarinet repertoire. Alain Damiens takes a very literal view of the composer’s stipulation that it be played without expressive interpretation and gives a deliberately mechanical rendition. Equally attractive is John Adams’ intriguingly titled gnarly buttons, played here by Andre Trouttet, which fuses minimalism with other forms of popular and serious music to create a very distinctive style. Extending the range of variety still further is Howard Sandroff’s Tephillah, a wonderfully evocative work based on Hebrew liturgical chants, in which the sound world of the solo clarinet is extended on every level by the use of real time electronics. Although overall quality is very good, New York Counterpoint seems to have been recorded at a much lower level giving a slightly recessed effect. Tim Payne