Notes and Editorial Reviews
This release was the brainchild of Greg Kostraba, then a Toledo, Ohio-based classical radio producer and a pianist of some skill (semi-finalist, Fourth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition). He came across the Jerome Moross Sonatina for Clarinet Choir and prevailed upon the clarinet section of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and several distinguished colleagues to play it and the Osbora work for his radio program. The success of that venture led to a search for more repertoire, and a Mellon Foundation grant made this CD a reality.
Child-prodigy composer Moross made his name in Hollywood producing film and television music including the Oscar-nominated score for The Big Country; one can easily hear the Coplandesque style
of the 1950s Western in this score. Written on a commission from his publisher, it is not the expected easy work for students, but pleases with its exploitation of the clarinet choir sonorities and with melodies that linger after the work has ended. This and the Quartet for Four B-flat Clarinets by clarinetist Sean Osborn - a friend of one of the Toledo group - are the most engaging of the program. The Osborn is a short four-movement work, with an opening movement that dances, a spiky scherzo, and a meditative slow movement nicely spiced with mild dissonances. The Grainger-like last movement is reminiscent of the British-band folk-music tradition.
Of course, William Grant Still is the best known name among the four and a composer of a large number of highly accessible works. The Lyric Quartet-a string quartet in real life-presents charming portraits of three unidentified friends of contrasting temperament: sentimental, quiet, and jovial. The jovial friend may have been Jewish, given the touch of klezmer here, or maybe that's the arrangement. The Christmas work, arrangements of folk tunes from around the Western hemisphere, was written for voices and piano among several options. Still's settings of the mostly unfamiliar carols are straightforward and complement the simple charm of the originals. Kostraba's transcription simply replaces the four string voices with clarinets. There is nothing terribly novel here, nor anything that one would consider top-drawer.
The program ends with a work commissioned for this recording: young Ohio-based composer Christopher Dietz's dark rumination on Psalm 130, "Out of the Depths." It is easily the most contemporary work here, reminiscent of Berg at times, though not dodecaphonic, and shows off the beautiful blend and excellent control of the ensemble.
- Ronald E. Grames,
Fanfare, May/June 2010
Works on This Recording
Sonatina for Clarinet Choir by Jerome Moross
Kevin Schempf (Alto Clarinet),
Elliot Ross (Bass Clarinet),
Chelsea II Tipton (Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century
Length: 11 Minutes 33 Secs.
De Profundis by Christopher Dietz
Shannon Ford (Bass Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century
Length: 10 Minutes 42 Secs.
Be the first to review this title