The iciness and drama of his great film scores contrasts powerfully with the reserved and lyrical beauty of Bernard Herrmann’s chamber music. Souvenir de Voyage was his final concert work, each of the three movements having roots in a different work of art – A.E. Houseman’s On Wenlock Edge, Synge’s novel Riders to the Sea and the Venetian watercolours of J.M.W. Turner. This rhythmically sinuous clarinet quintet is both vivid and graceful. David Del Tredici’s Magyar Madness fuses ardency with playful wit, its long finale a vast and wild ‘Hungarian frenzy’.
Written in 1967, Herrmann's Souvenirs de Voyage for clarinet quintet was his final concert composition, and it's a beauty.Read more Clarinetist Michel Lethiec prefers tonal variety to uniformity, and he is not afraid to bring an occasional astringent edge to a curvaceous melody or extra heft to low sustained notes in support of string solos.
By way of stylistic contrast, David Del Tredici's brand of hyper-romanticism holds nothing back. Magyar Madness's first movement serves up heaps of counterpoint, accelerated repeat phrases, wild runs, and Richard Straussian harmonic tricks. Overall however, he deftly balances the work by providing enough moments of calm before each successive storm.
Buyers Remorse...July 12, 2017By H. Ventura (Mililani, HI)See All My Reviews"Bernard Herrmann's composition, Souvenirs de voyage, is barely passable. It sounds like edited snippets from his movie soundtracks. Its a quiet interlude for clarinet and string quartet. Comparing this work to Brahms' clarinet compositions is merely a marketing ploy. David Del Tredicis Magyar Madness, is what its title implies, almost 45 minutes of maddening, squealing dissonance. The mediocre recording only adds to the fingernails on a chalkboard experience.This piece clearly outstays its welcome. A second hearing further wasted my time. Will recycle this disc as a coaster; at least Ill get some use out of it."Report Abuse
Two masterpieces for clarinet and string quartetNovember 11, 2016By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"Bernard Herrmann was a very cultured man with wide-ranging interests that went well beyond music. His 1967 Clarinet Quintet Souvenirs de voyage has three movements, and each has an artistic inspiration. The first refers to A.E. Housman's On Wenlock Edge, from A Shropshire Lad: On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble; His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves; The gale, it plies the saplings double, And thick on Severn snow the leaves. The second takes its cue from J.M. Synge's play Riders to the Sea: "Michael has a clean burial in the far north, by the grace of the Almighty God. Bartley will have a fine coffin out of the white boards, and a deep grave surely. What more can we want than that? No man at all can be living for ever, and we must be satisfied." The last movement was suggested by J.M.W. Turner's lovely Venetian watercolours. This is very appealing music, with the built-in Mozart and Brahms call-backs that come with the Clarinet and Strings format. There are Herrmann references as well: he was writing his superb Fahrenheit 451 score for Francois Truffaut at this time, which in turn makes reference to one of the greatest film scores of all time: Vertigo (1958). There are plenty of other versions of Souvenirs de voyages out there, including a great disc with the Tippett Quartet and Julian Bliss, but this new disc with the Fine Arts Quartet and Michel Lethiec is really excellent. Switching gears, we have David del Tredici's Magyar Madness, a piece with a more advanced musical style, and a wider expressive range than the Herrmann work. In spite of the often spiky phrases, there are still bits of Mozart and Brahms floating out there. David Krakauer, the clarinettist who premiered the work with the Orion String Quartet in 2007, asked Del Tredici to write something in the Klezmer style. His response: "Oy vey! Klezmer I can't do, but Hungarian I'll try." So we have the frenetic 25 minute Magyar Madness finale, based on Schubert's work for piano 4 hands, Divertissement a la Hongroise. This is witty, exciting, passionate music that's a showpiece for the clarinet, but also the strings. There's a fine recent disc of this piece with Krakauer and the Orion Quartet, but again the new disc meets those standards. We're lucky the record companies are paying attention to this music!"Report Abuse