New American Clarinet Quintets

PETER SCHICKELE (b.1935): Spring Forward (Miró Quartet), RICHARD DANIELPOUR (b.1956): Clarinet Quintet “The Last Jew in Hamadan” (Dover Quartet), AARON JAY KERNIS (b.1960): Perpetual Chaconne (Jasper String Quartet).

Catalogue Number: 04U050

Label: Delos

Reference: DE 3528

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: Three thoroughly approachable modern, tonal clarinet quintets. When Schickele (P.D.Q. Bach) writes his own, 'serious' music, it nevertheless remains genial and appealing, often incorporating a good measure of lightheartedness and positivity, and so it is with this elegant suite celebrating the delights of Spring. 'Awakening' exudes warmth and lively lyricism, followed by a gentle slow movement and a scherzo and Tri­o. An unexpectedly reflective interlude prefaces a bucolic scene of a spring evening picnic. Although it is light and entertaining, the music is never trivial, and the craftsmanship of its construction is impeccable. Danielpour's piece is more serious, though no less approachable. As he has done before, not least in his impressive Darkness in the Ancient Valley symphony (10P072), the composer confronts the troubled history of Iran and his own heritage in relation to it. He lived briefly in pre-revolutionary Tehran as a child, and this piece is based on his memories, accounts by Iranian exiles and the recent history of the country. The title refers to the dwindling Jewish community in the city where Danielpour's father was born. The first movement is vigorous, with elements of lively celebration and of defiance, with melodic contours shaped by middle-Eastern modes both Jewish and Persian. The second movement is an extended lament for what has been lost in more recent years, its final section a heartbroken coda. Kernis' Perpetual Chaconne is in a somewhat tougher and more varied idiom, but still very approachable. The piece explores various strategies used in variation form throughout the centuries, from simple elaborations over a ground to more extravagant 'developing variations' which take the original material much further afield. The work is based on small motivic cells that form the basis for a structure that "maps an emotional journey from mournful lyricism to increasingly abstract, harsh gestures and back" as the composer describes it. David Shifrin (clarinet).

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