BENIAMIN BACZEWSKI (b.1991): Concerto For Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra, ARTUR GUZA (b.1982): The Cursed Forest for Clarinet and Orchestra, AARON COPLAND (1900-1990): Clarinet Concerto.

Catalogue Number: 08V066

Label: Dux

Reference: 1266

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: A recording called "A Tribute to Benny Goodman" had better rejoice in a superabundance of swing and soul, or we might as well all go home. Fortunately, this hugely enjoyable disc does everything you want it to, from uncontrollable toe-tapping to irresistible melody-wallowing. All the music is tonal and immensely appealing. Baczewski's concerto is a sophisticated delight; a tour de force for the soloist without venturing into extended techniques aside from some mysterious multiphonics in the introduction to the slow movement. The first movement is irresistibly catchy and jaunty, full of high-spirited, bubbling melody over rhythmic accompaniment. The second gives the album its title, and is a superb piece of orchestral big band swing; the closest thing here to what Goodman would have recognized as his territory (probably more so than the beloved Copland work that he commissioned). The following "Lullaby" is more of a nocturne, with ambiguous, even sinister, undertones and an endless flow of melody from the soloist amidst lush orchestral textures and harmonies. The good-humoured rondo-finale goes much further than the Copland in incorporating Latin rhythms and instrumentation into its material, and treats us to a 'big tune' before the final flourish. Guza's suite - "enchanted" rather than "cursed" seems to fit its Romantic fairytale atmosphere better - consists of four short, atmospheric tone poems with a challenging part for the soloist as narrator, or protagonist. The opening movement is lively and syncopated, with almost a Klezmer feel to its sprightly recurring motif. The slow movement is nocturnal and mysterious, mournful and melodic; a brief goblin dance leads to a demanding cadenza, complete with the obligatory multiphonics. There follows a kind of brief scherzo in the form of a slightly 'off' waltz that could be a left over movement from one of Shostakovich's Jazz Suites. Dawn breaks in the finale with ominous tapping and a few retreating night birds, then starts to develop a slow bluesy section before transitioning into a final section of repetitive moody brooding reminiscent of Craig Armstrong or Angelo Badalamenti. Andrzej Wojciechowski (clarinet), Gdańsk Academy of Music Chamber Orchestra; Łukasz Borowicz.


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