WORKS: Clarinet Concerto; Sinfonietta No. 2; Three Miniatures; Prelude for Solo Clarinet
PERFORMER: Sharon Kam (clarinet), Itamar Golan (piano); Czech PO/Krzysztof Penderecki
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-13135-2
Coupling Krzysztof Penderecki’s clarinet works with the music of his compatriot Lutoslawski does the younger composer no favours at all. The pithy directness and clean, bright outlines of the orchestral version of the Dance Preludes, composed in 1955 while Lutoslawski was still digesting the influences of Polish folk music, make a painfully sharp contrast to the dogged, contrived note-spinning of the Clarinet Concerto and the Sinfonietta No. 2 for clarinet and strings, and to their clotted scoring. Where Lutoslawski applies instrumental colour with the tip of the finest brush, Penderecki daubs with all the subtlety of a graffiti artist; the result is music that seems to lack any light and shade, or any depth beyond its uningratiating surfaces.
Curiously, both the substantial works here began life as utterly different pieces – the Concerto was originally conceived for flute and orchestra, while the Sinfonietta grew out of a quartet for clarinet, violin, viola and cello; perhaps the originals were more convincing. The performances are adequate: the young Israeli clarinettist Sharon Kam is undoubtedly a fluent technician, though her tone sometimes acquires a raw edge in this recording, but then whose wouldn’t in this music? Andrew Clements