MILTON BABBITT (b.1916): Clarinet Quintet, MORTON FELDMAN (1926-1987): Clarinet and String Quartet.
Catalogue Number: 02L124
Description: Feldman's 1983 piece is based largely on the idea of the sense of musical resolution achieved when a complex, dissonant sound gives way to a clearer, simpler one. A series of gently rocking, hypnotically repeated gestures is presented on after the other, subtle and sotto voce, with great attention paid to coloristic timbral detail. The effect is of exhaustively trying out the emotional effect of these little gestures over and over again, searching for the perfect nuance of expression. Babbitt's 1996 quintet is full of quirky rhythms and resolutely tonality-free layers of material (tonal references are not studiously avoided, however, and pop up 'like half-familiar faces in a crowd'). Perhaps because of the associations of the clarinet, this piece quite explicitly references jazz gestures, not uncommon in Babbitt, but especially noticeable here. Characteristically complex, but not unapproachable, with a lively, even humorous interplay between the instrumental lines. Phoenix Ensemble, Mark Lieb (clarinet).