This month we return to featuring the repertoire of a single instrument. As a clarinetist I’m biased, but I adore the range and expressive potential of the instrument and this month’s composers really highlight those qualities. So, April’s playlist is all about the clarinet family (high and low) and their music.
Tasmanian Devil by Marigold Bartlett
While streaming is a great way to discover new music, please consider purchasing albums or otherwise supporting those who make the music you love – we’ve even set up a Merch Table link to get you started!
Like I mentioned last time, these playlists really highlight the role of the performer in championing Australian music. Whether commissioning, recording, discovering or rediscovering – our industry owes a lot of to the individuals who create these legacies.
It’s been a pleasure hearing Deborah De Graaff, Jason Noble and Richard Haynes pop up in multiple composer’s recordings, as well as European performers, Harry Sparnaay and Henri Bok, engaging with some of our classic repertoire.
Fascinating works come from composer-performers Brigid Burke, Aviva Endean, and Vicki Hallett each exploring the unique sonic of their chosen instrument.
Brigid Burke’s Gloss centres the clarinet in a gestural forest of guitar, percussion and electronics – playing with the instrument’s beautiful control and nuance to duck and weave (this also flows into Martin Wesley-Smith’s For Bass Clarinet And Tape perfectly). Aviva Endean showcases an expressive duet of air and space in her piece, undulations: behind, where Vicki Hallett builds earthy timbral layers of clarinet melody to construct her Elephant Song.
As a bass and contrabass clarinetist, I have to admit I’m really drawn to the lower clarinet family and the composers that write for them.
I have very fond memories of playing Nigel Westlake’s bass clarinet concerto, Invocations, and couldn’t make this list without it. Likewise, a new ear worm exciting my inner bass clarinetist is Andrew Ford’s Snatches of Old Lauds. Performed stunningly in this recording by Richard Haynes, it draws attention to the sheer range and registral possibilities of instruments (my favourite qualities) all while wrapped in a warm bass drone blanket.
These qualities seem less surprising when you consider my own concerto for contrabass clarinet, Yggdrasil: The World Tree. Covering a bewildering and terrifying five and a half octave range (from below double bass to well into the dramatic soprano range), the terrifying piece is handled graciously by soloist, Susan Newsome and well supported by Sydney Conservatorium Wind Symphony under the baton of John Lynch.
Some other favourites this month include a beautiful blended trio for oboe, clarinet and bassoon in Jennifer Fowler’s Lament, Corrina Bonshek’s organic unfurling solo, As Small Birds Play, and Miriam Hyde’s Tangled Rope where Deborah de Graaff reenacts the composer’s fight with a errant garden hose.
I hope you enjoy this dive into clarinet repertoire on Aussie Art Music playlist this month – I’ve enjoyed discovering some new works and share some of my old favourites. If you’re looking for more music, the full Australian Art Music Archive (with its own Merch Table link) has also been updated on Spotify, now with 665 pieces by over 400 different composers!
Join me next month for new faces and the latest releases,
The Full Track List: Australian Art Music, April 2021
Snatches Of Old Lauds by Andrew Ford | performed by Richard Haynes
Yggdrasil: The World Tree by Cameron Lam | performed by Susan Newsome & Sydney Conservatorium Wind Symphony, conducted by John Lynch
Gloss by Brigid Burke | performed by BHZ
undulations : behind by Aviva Endean | performed by Aviva Endean
For Bass Clarinet And Tape by Martin Wesley-Smith | performed by Harry Sparnaay
Daniel Paujimi’s Song by Daniel Paujimi | performed by Daniel Paujimi & Jason Noble
NRG by Gerard Brophy | performed by Henri Bok
Invocations – Concerto for Bass Clarinet & Chamber Orchestra by Nigel Westlake | performed by Alison Lazaroff-Somssich & Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Porcelijn
As Small Birds Play by Corrina Bonshek | performed by Jason Noble
Ladder Of Escape by Michael Smetanin | performed by Harry Sparnaay
Songs from the Bush by Ian Munro | performed by David Rowden & Omega Ensemble
Elephant Song by Vicki Hallett | performed by Vicki Hallett
Humming Cups by Damien Ricketson | performed by Jason Noble & Ensemble Offspring
Tangled Rope by Miriam Hyde | performed by Deborah de Graaff & Len Vorster
Queen and Workers (from Hive) by Peggy Polias | performed by Catherine Thompson & Lee Akinsanya (The Nano Symphony)
Peggy’s Minute Rag by Elena Kats-Chernin | performed by Deborah De Graaff & Tonya Lemoh
Three Sounds on Buildings (for solo clarinet) by Brigid Burke | performed by Carl Rosman
verdigris by Nick Ashwood | performed by Laura Altman & Nick Ashwood
Clarinet Quintet by Lachlan Skipworth | performed by Ashley William Smith, Akiko Miyazawa, Kate Sullivan, Ben Caddy & Jon Tooby
Lament by Jennifer Fowler | performed by Lontano & Odaline de la Martinez
Ariel’s Music by Brett Dean | performed by Paul Dean & Queensland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Richard Mills
Sonorous Body by Liza Lim | performed by Richard Haynes
ruins within by Chris Dench | performed by Carl Rosman
Chinese Folk Song Suite by Julian Yu | performed by Robert Schubert & Trio Varie
Kanga Rag by Julie Symonds | performed by Deborah De Graaff & Tonya Lemoh