Ohio-based Rick Sowash is a rarity these days: a serious composer who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Indeed, he strongly believes in the beautiful partnership of humor and music—just listen to his hilarious yet also skilfully crafted choral “round” The Philosopher—while exhibiting a passion and artful talent for creating what he himself calls tunefulness, tonality, and traditional musical architecture, in the service of “optimism…and the joy of being alive.”
Truly, his substantial (more than 30 minutes) clarinet concerto celebrates and encompasses all of those things—it may not be profound, but it’s profoundly engaging, intelligent, and impressive in the way it integrates the clarinet (with assured idiomatic style) intoRead more the orchestral framework, assigning reams of challenging material to the soloist but never allowing the listener to tire of too much clarinet timbre. The affecting second movement could make a stand-alone concert piece. The tunes are good and abundant, and although Sowash says he wanted to “carry forward the tradition of American-sounding composers”, there are many moments throughout the work that recall those early-20th-century English pastoral pieces by Butterworth, Bridge, or Elgar. No matter, clarinet lovers (and players) will be pleased, as will any listeners who enjoy lovely, lyrical, unpretentious orchestral music.
Paul Ben-Haim’s 1945 Pastorale (for clarinet, harp, and string orchestra) is infused with a kind of “Middle-Eastern” flavor in its melodies, beginning with the clarinet playing a “sweet shepherd’s tune”—again all well-integrated with the other instruments and with enough variety of mood, texture, and expressive ideas that the work’s 16-plus minutes go by easily and without ever seeming long for the material. Like Sowash’s concerto, this is excellent concert music that deserves wider exposure. Film composer John Williams contributes the disc closer, Viktor’s Tale, from the film The Terminal. It has all the melodic charm, rhythmic lift, and colorful atmosphere we associate with Eastern European folk music. And all of this is performed with obvious enthusiasm and appropriate stylistic flair by American clarinetist David Drosinos, accompanied by the technically fine and warmly sonorous St. Petersburg Symphony and expertly recorded at St. Petersburg’s Melodia Studios. I’m not a nut for the clarinet, but this is really worth a listen.
The Terminal: Viktor’s Taleby John T. Williams Performer:
David Drosinos (Clarinet)
St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
refreshingFebruary 2, 2012By Yannis G. See All My Reviews"What a great CD.....The Sowash Concerto is melodic and pleasant to listen to, which is so untypical of most new American music these days.....the Ben-Haim is sultry and warm and pulls you right into the Mediterranean....And Viktor's Tale is a jaunty eauropean appetizer leaving you wanting more ! David Drosinos is a spectacular player, every phrase spun with warmth and confidence."Report Abuse