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A Clarinet Collective / Nygren

Debussy / Mozart / Stout / Nygren
Release Date: 01/10/2012 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1330  
Composer:  Raymond Gallois-MontbrunFrank WileyAlan StoutMary Ann Griebling,   ... 
Performer:  Dennis NygrenJerry Wong
Conductor:  Wayne Gorder
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gallois Montbrun EnsembleAlden String QuartetEnsemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A CLARINET COLLECTIVE Dennis Nygren (cl); Aiden Qrt; Jerry Wong (pn); Wayne Gorder, cond; instr ens ALBANY 1330 (76: 00)

GALLOIS MONTBRUN 6 Pièces musicales d’étude. WILEY Invocation and Spirit Dance. STOUT Movement for Clarinet and String Quartet. GRIEBLING The 4 Read more Elements. DEBUSSY Prélude à l’après midi d’une faune. 4 songs. KENNAN Threnody. MOZART 4 Church Sonatas

Dennis Nygren, professor of clarinet at Kent State University from 1983 to 2012, is a master of his art and he lets us all enjoy his virtuosity with this cornucopia of works that range from the 18th century to the present.

Raymond Gallois Montbrun (1918–94) studied with Henri Büsser, who was at various points in his life the secretary to Gounod, a protégé of Massenet, and a friend of Debussy. Gallois Montbrun was, therefore, in line to absorb a great deal of French musical tradition. The six etudes that Nygren and the ensemble play here were written to show various aspects of instrumental technique. Gallois Montbrun’s music contains rapid runs, difficult arpeggios, legato sonorities that require the utmost in breath control, and other challenges for the soloist, but none of it bothers Nygren.

Kent State University professor Frank Wiley’s Spirit Dance shows the imaginative side of Nygren’s playing. The listener can picture a dancer moving gracefully in a forest clearing as the moon shines on her extended limbs.

Composer Alan Burrage Stout studied with Henry Cowell and Wallingford Riegger. Nygren and the Aiden Quartet give a ravishingly beautiful rendition of the expressionistic harmonies of his 1973 Movement. It is a wonderful piece, somewhat reminiscent of the music of Arnold Schonberg and Alban Berg, that should be heard more often.

Mary Ann Griebling composed a four-movement sonata for clarinet and piano that was eventually renamed The Four Elements. The idea that earth, air, fire, and water are elemental comes from the Sicilian philosopher Empedocles who lived c.450 BCE. Griebling describes them ably in musical terms. Her “Earth” is solid and studded with gems. “Air” is ethereal and refreshing like a spring breeze. “Flames” dance and “Water” flows. She paints a sweeping picture that Nygren and pianist Jerry Wong interpret with great panache.

The Debussy faun who spends his afternoon with us is really more of a mythological character conceived by poet Stéphane Mallarmé than an ordinary young deer. The revolutionary 1894 composition works wonderfully in the clarinet and piano version heard on this disc. Debussy’s songs are heard here in an arrangement for clarinet and string quartet. The rendition by Nygren and the Aiden String Quartet of the lovely Beau Soir is an absolute jewel.

A threnody is a song, hymn, or poem of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person. The one on this disc is by Kent Kennan, who won the Prix de Rome at the tender age of 23. Since then, he has become an internationally known composer, author, and music educator. His Threnody is slow and smooth with well-shaped notes from the clarinet accompanied by a sparse piano part.

The finale on the recording is Nygren’s arrangement of four church sonatas that Mozart wrote to be played between the Epistle and the Gospel during Mass. Here they are played magnificently by clarinet, wind octet, and string bass. Conductor Wayne Gorder leads the pickup ensembles in the first piece and the finale, drawing detailed precision and virtuosity from each group. The recorded sound is warm and pleasantly live.

FANFARE: Maria Nockin
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Works on This Recording

Pieces (6) musicales d'étude by Raymond Gallois-Montbrun
Performer:  Dennis Nygren (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Wayne Gorder
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gallois Montbrun Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Invocation and Spirit Dance by Frank Wiley
Performer:  Dennis Nygren (Clarinet)
Movement for Clarinet and String Quartet by Alan Stout
Performer:  Dennis Nygren (Clarinet)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alden String Quartet
The Four Elements by Mary Ann Griebling
Performer:  Dennis Nygren (Clarinet), Jerry Wong (Piano)
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Dennis Nygren (Clarinet), Jerry Wong (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1892-1894; France 
Notes: Arranged for clarinet and piano. 
Song(s) by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Dennis Nygren (Clarinet)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alden String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Notes: Four songs by Claude Debussy arranged for clarinet and string quartet. 
Threnody for Flute/Violin and Piano by Kent Kennan
Performer:  Dennis Nygren (Clarinet), Jerry Wong (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1994; USA 
Notes: Arranged for clarinet and piano. 
Church Sonata(s) for Organ and Strings by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Dennis Nygren (Clarinet)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble
Period: Classical 
Notes: Arrangements for clarinet and chamber ensemble from four Church Sonatas by Mozart. 

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