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Arnold, Bacri, Chevreuille, Horowitz, Martinu, Poot, Sancan: Sonatinas For Clarinet & Piano / Spaendonck

Van Spaendonck,Ronald / Reyes,Eliane
Release Date: 01/12/2010 
Label:  Fuga Libera   Catalog #: 558   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Malcolm ArnoldBohuslav MartinuNicolas BacriPierre Sancan,   ... 
Performer:  Ronald Van SpaendonckReyes Eliane
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ARNOLD Clarinet Sonatina. MARTIn? Clarinet Sonatina. BACRI Sonatina lirica. SANCAN Clarinet Sonatine. CHEVREUILLE Clarinet Sonatine. POOT Clarinet Sonatine. HOROVITZ Clarinet Sonatina Ronald van Spaendonck (cl); Éliane Read more Reyes (pn) FUGA LIBERA 558 (63:26)

This inventive recital was my introduction to Belgian clarinetist Ronald van Spaendonck (the booklet capitalizes the “V” in “Van” in some places, and not in others). He and pianist Éliane Reyes have gathered seven compositions that share a number of features: First, of course, all carry the title Sonatina in one or another language; second, all were composed after 1950; and third, while the works naturally differ in style, all partake of basically conservative musical languages. There is, in fact, a good deal of old-fashioned tonality here, and even the more adventuresome pieces refrain from indulging in the “new-music” extended techniques so commonly encountered in present-day recitals at American conservatories and schools of music.

Nevertheless, only the Martin? and the two English works that bookend the program (Joseph Horovitz emigrated to Great Britain from Vienna with his family in 1938) are well known; of these, only the Martin? can be regarded as truly basic recital repertoire for clarinetists. Of the remaining four sonatinas, three (Bacri, Chevreuille, and Poot) are listed on the booklet cover as world premiere recordings. The Martin? Sonatina probably requires the least exegesis; composed in 1956, it is a charming and folksy work that partakes of the influences of the irreverence of France’s Les Six and of American jazz, reflecting two countries that the composer called home during his latter years. Van Spaendonck shows an impressive technical command here but avoids flashiness for its own sake; I did find his tendency to take liberties with the tempos a bit of a distraction.

Malcolm Arnold’s Sonatina, written in 1951 and premiered by none other than the young Colin Davis, is also a high-spirited, jazz-inflected romp; the Horovitz, written 30 years later, is nevertheless similar to the Arnold in style—engaging, unabashedly tonal, and ending with a jazzy “Con brio” finale.

It struck me as curious that a program of sonatinas emanating from one of Europe’s Francophile countries would omit the well-known works in this genre by Honegger and Milhaud, particularly in light of the presence of the Martin?; nevertheless, their absence makes practical the inclusion of the remaining, lesser-known works. Taking them in program order, the Sonatina lirica of the Paris-born Nicolas Bacri (b. 1961), written in 2008 and dedicated to van Spaendonck and Reyes, is a highly accessible neo-Romantic work; it is unfortunate that its companion piece, titled Sonatina lapidaria and designed to contrast strongly with the Sonatina lirica , could not also be included. The 1963 Sonatine of Pierre Sancan (1916–2008), a faculty member of the Paris Conservatory, has its roots in the music of Françaix and Poulenc (whose well-known Clarinet Sonata is a product of the same year); written for the Conservatory’s longtime clarinet teacher Ulysse Delécleuse, it is more technically challenging than Poulenc’s sonata, if not as engaging.

The remaining two composers are compatriots of van Spaendonck. The contribution by Raymond Chevreuille (1901–76) is a spiky, technically demanding work in what annotator Michel Stockhem calls a “freely atonal language”; he mentions the influence of Bartók and Stravinsky, but I hear echoes of Honegger here as well. Finally, the 1965 Sonatine by Marcel Poot (1901–88), perhaps Belgium’s best-known composer after Franck, is a brief (six-minute) essay in a conservative, cosmopolitan style.

Van Spaendonck plays in a fairly conventional manner, with a firm, reedy tone that eschews vibrato; occasionally, the sound has a tendency to lose focus at dynamic and registral extremes, but for the most part this is solid, enjoyable playing. The recorded sound is both pleasingly live and very full and clear. Especially for the unfamiliar works, this is a valuable recital that anyone interested in the clarinet and its repertoire will want to have.

FANFARE: Richard A. Kaplan
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Works on This Recording

Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 29 by Malcolm Arnold
Performer:  Ronald Van Spaendonck (Clarinet), Reyes Eliane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; England 
Venue:  Brussels, Studio The Right Place 
Length: 7 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Ronald Van Spaendonck (Clarinet), Reyes Eliane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; Rome, Italy 
Venue:  Brussels, Studio The Right Place 
Length: 10 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Sonatina lirica for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 108 no 1 by Nicolas Bacri
Performer:  Reyes Eliane (Piano), Ronald Van Spaendonck (Clarinet)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2008 
Venue:  Brussels, Studio The Right Place 
Length: 8 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Sonatina for clarinet & piano in B flat major by Pierre Sancan
Performer:  Ronald Van Spaendonck (Clarinet), Reyes Eliane (Piano)
Written: 1963 
Venue:  Brussels, Studio The Right Place 
Length: 6 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Sonatina for clarinet & piano, Op. 94 by Raymond Chevreuille
Performer:  Ronald Van Spaendonck (Clarinet), Reyes Eliane (Piano)
Written: 1970 
Venue:  Brussels, Studio The Right Place 
Length: 10 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Sonatina for clarinet & piano by Marcel Poot
Performer:  Ronald Van Spaendonck (Clarinet), Reyes Eliane (Piano)
Written: 1965 
Venue:  Brussels, Studio The Right Place 
Length: 6 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano by Joseph Horovitz
Performer:  Ronald Van Spaendonck (Clarinet), Reyes Eliane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1981; England 
Venue:  Brussels, Studio The Right Place 
Length: 13 Minutes 10 Secs. 

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