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New Dialects

Release Date: 04/27/2010 
Label:  Centaur Records   Catalog #: 3038   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Eric MandatKen UenoNed McGowanJohn Mayer,   ... 
Performer:  Gregory OakesNed McGowan
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MANDAT Folk Songs 1. UENO I Screamed at the Sea Until Nodes Swelled Up, Then My Voice Became the Resonant Noise of the Sea 2. SIERRA 5 Bocetos 3. McGOWAN Ios Duo 4. YI Monologue 5. MAYER Raga Read more Music 6. FELDER Apache Clown Dance 7 1-7 Gregory Oakes (cl); 4 Ned McGowan (fl) CENTAUR CRC 3038 (68:43)

This disc is likely to find a place only on clarinetists’ shelves, given its nearly exclusive instrumentation of solo clarinet. This would be a pity, since there is much to enjoy for anyone interested in the wanderings of contemporary music in the last couple of decades, and indeed for those whose sole criterion is quality music realized at a high level. Besides its intrinsic musical value, I could scarcely imagine a better primer on clarinet possibilities for the budding composer.

If Eric Mandat’s Folk Songs from 1986 hasn’t become a mainstay in contemporary music, there is no justice in the music world. Just the opening bars brought back fond memories, as I recalled hearing the composer play it a number of times many years ago, and his disc of solo clarinet music from two decades ago remains a favorite in the genre. Mandat was not the first to explore extended clarinet techniques and bring non-Western influences to his instrument, but few (if any) have synthesized these strains in such a controlled and compelling way. I was doubtful that anyone other than the composer could do justice to these very personal works, but Gregory Oakes has made them his own, and deserves credit for bringing them to a wider audience.

Like the Mandat work, Ken Ueno’s solo work is keen to explore many non-traditional sounds, including “difference tones,” humming, multiphonics, and key clicks. I have little patience for those that maintain that an instrument should not attempt anything other than what its inventors intended, and I would hope any open-minded listener would give Ueno’s fascinating piece a try. One mission of these sonic explorations is to give the illusion of multiple voices, thereby increasing the possibilities of unaccompanied “single line” instruments like the clarinet.

The five movements of Roberto Sierra’s Cinco Bocetos are less concerned with timbral explorations than simple embodiments of the musical flavors of Puerto Rico. Still, he senses the potential pitfalls of a solo wind instrument, and uses well-crafted changes of register to give the illusion of multiple voices (like Bach’s solo works for single line instruments such as the violin, cello, and flute). Chen Yi’s haunting Monologue packs a multiplicity of voluminous ideas into a small package. It might seem unlikely that she could distill her impressions of a true story by writer Lu Xun into a mere four minutes, but she does so with consummate skill and idiomatic use of the instrument.

Flutist and composer Ned McGowan joins Oakes for the former’s Ios Duo , which among other things explores bends of pitches within close intervals between the pair, as well as gentle cross-rhythms and melodies suffused with microtonal inflections. John Mayer’s Raga Music , with its brief movements and Eastern references, could be viewed as a precursor to Mandat’s Folk Songs , minus the latter’s extended techniques. The barn-burning finale is Arthur Felder’s Apache Clown Dance , a picturesque, virtuosic, and thoroughly engrossing depiction of a dance ritual.

Splendid playing throughout, and the recorded sound is close, clear, and a bit on the dry side.

FANFARE: Michael Cameron
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Works on This Recording

Folk Songs, for clarinet by Eric Mandat
Performer:  Gregory Oakes (Clarinet)
Written: 1986 
Date of Recording: 02/2009-06/2009 
Venue:  Martha Ellen Tye Recital Hall, Ames, Iow 
Length: 13 Minutes 14 Secs. 
I screamed at the sea until nodes swelled up, then my voice became the resonant noise of the by Ken Ueno
Performer:  Gregory Oakes (Clarinet)
Written: 2006 
Date of Recording: 02/2009-06/2009 
Venue:  Martha Ellen Tye Recital Hall, Ames, Iow 
Length: 11 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Ios Duo, for flute & clarinet by Ned McGowan
Performer:  Ned McGowan (Flute), Gregory Oakes (Clarinet)
Written: 2000 
Date of Recording: 03/19/2009 
Venue:  Net Bethaniënklooster, Amsterdam, Nether 
Length: 12 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Raga Music, for solo clarinet by John Mayer
Performer:  Gregory Oakes (Clarinet)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1956; India 
Date of Recording: 02/2009-06/2009 
Venue:  Martha Ellen Tye Recital Hall, Ames, Iow 
Length: 8 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Apache Clown Dance, for clarinet by Alfred Felder
Performer:  Gregory Oakes (Clarinet)
Written: 1998 
Date of Recording: 02/2009-06/2009 
Venue:  Martha Ellen Tye Recital Hall, Ames, Iow 
Length: 8 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Bocetos (5) by Roberto Sierra
Performer:  Gregory Oakes (Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984; Puerto Rico 
Date of Recording: 02/2009-06/2009 
Venue:  Martha Ellen Tye Recital Hall, Ames, Iow 
Length: 6 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Monologue (Impression on "The True Story of Ah Q"), for solo clarinet by Chen Yi
Performer:  Gregory Oakes (Clarinet)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1993 
Date of Recording: 02/2009-06/2009 
Venue:  Martha Ellen Tye Recital Hall, Ames, Iow 
Length: 3 Minutes 57 Secs. 

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