Some listeners think classical music must have tragedy and struggle for it to really rate. If you firmly believe that, you may want to stay away from this disc; the music here has the potential to change your mind. Peter Schickele's style is free of storm and stress, and full of graceful melodies and foot-tapping rhythms. Fans of P.D.Q. Bach (Schickele's comic alter ego) will be happy to find a tune from Oedipus Tex in the rousing conclusion of the Serenade for Three. Otherwise, there is no "comedy music" here--but there is good humor just about everywhere.
All four pieces are clear and concise, using tonal modern harmonies (with mild dissonance) and uncomplicated textures. Listeners to the composer's radioRead more show The Schickele Mix know the composer has eclectic tastes. This is reflected in the diverse influences found here, which range from pulsing blues chords to use of irregular Balkan rhythms. The music is more apt to break into country-style fiddling riffs than into fugues, and the piano whips out a barrel-house finale in the Serenade for Three. By rights, the music ought to sound like a hodge-podge of styles. Yet it doesn't, though it comes close in Monocrome III, which changes moods and style almost too often. Elsewhere, and despite its diversity, the music sounds logical and unified.
The performers are members of The American Chamber Ensemble, a long-established New York organization. Three of the compositions feature its clarinetist and co-director Naomi Drucker. She plays nimbly and with engaging personality. Stanley Drucker is the apparent head of a nine-clarinet ensemble in Monocrome III, which is notable because of the variety of sounds Schickele draws from its rare group of identical instruments. At one point, the intonation of the lead clarinet sounds raw, but the effect is so blatant that perhaps Schickele intended it as a moment of parody.
An attractive close sound evokes a small but warm recital hall. Schickele's informative and witty notes complete a package that rates a high recommendation, paricularly for clarinet fans.
--Joseph Stevenson, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Serenade for Threeby Peter Schickele Orchestra/Ensemble:
American Chamber Ensemble
Period: 20th Century Written: 1993
Monocrome III for 9 Clarinetsby Peter Schickele Performer:
Stanley Drucker (Clarinet),
Jess Gross (Clarinet),
Peter Weinberg (Clarinet),
Amy Shapiro (Clarinet),
Mitchell Estrin (Clarinet),
Robert Yamins (Clarinet),
Lawrence Sobol (Clarinet),
Naomi Drucker (Clarinet),
Mindy Dragovich (Clarinet)
American Chamber Ensemble
Period: 20th Century Written: 1974; USA