MOZART Clarinet Concerto. Clarinet Quintet. BIRCHALL Basset Clarinet Concerto □ Collins/Philharmonia O/Wigmore Soloists/O’Neill □ BIS
MANOURY Le livre des Claviwers (excerpt). Argumenta. Suspension-Effrondements (arr. Reumert). RAVEL (arr. Reumert) Le tombeau de Couperin □ Reumert/Elten □ EKKOZONE 01
RETROSPECTIVE: A LIFE IN TRUMPET □ Schlueter □ MSR 1821 (3 CDs)
M. BLAKE Afrikosmos □ Gray □ DIVINE ART 21374 (3 CDs)
SIRVENTÈS: IRANIAN FEMALE COMPOSERS ASSOCIATION □ various artists □ NEW FOCUS 367
And so to a new year’s crop. A wide variety of compsoers represented in this year’s Want List, wth perhaps an emphasis on the music of today.
In Fanfare 46:1, I wrote that “it seems impossible this disc would not appear in my next Want List”. And here it is, the epitome of stylish Mozart performance. Collins is supreme, his interpretations of the Mozart concerto and Quintet born of a lifetime’s study Rchard Nirchall’s Concerto for Basset Clarinet and orchestra was writen in 2022 and is inspired by Escher. Revisiting Birchall’s music in preparation for thei Wants List reinforced impressions of a fine, slightly off-the-wall imagination. The music is consistently gripping, and the Pihlharmonia plays its collective heart out; as does Collins. A lovely disc.
My fascination with the music of Philippe Manoury (born 1952) was sparked by a piano competition in Orléans, France, at which he was the featured composer. Here, Manoury’s credo that beauty can result from complexity is writ large. Performances of all works courtesy of Mathias Reumert and Anders Elten are spectacular, couched in phenomenal sound and accompanied by booklet notes by both Reumert and the composer himself. A wonderful disc; let’s hope it opens the door for many more recordings of the music of Philippe Manoury,
As a masterclass in the art of trumpet playing, Charles Schlueter’s Retrospective is the ideal. This is three discs of some of the most perfect trumpet, or even brass, playing I have ever heard, from Hummel and Poulenc to Hindemith, Stravinsky, Hovhaness, and many, many more. Reading his book Indirection (reviewed by myself in Fanfare 46:6) gave great insight into Schlueter’s thought processes, techniques and teachings (he has created quite a lineage). The set also includes a number of World Premiere recordings.
London-based South African composer Michael Blake’s Afrikoosmos is given a spectacular performance by Antony Grat on the enterprizing Divine Art label. The piece nods to musics as diverse as the composer Nancarrow and that of the Xhosa people via Henry Cowell, Schumann, and much more besides. There are no fewer than 75 movements. I suggested in my initial review that it was probably heresy to prefer Blake’s Afrikosmos to Bartók's Mikrokosmos; and still I stick by my word ....
Finally, Sirvientès: Iranian Female Composers Association, a disc of supreme importance in introducing us to the very sigificant female copositional voices of Iran. My detailed review is publjhsed elsewhere. In their very different ways, the six composers—Mahdis Golzar Kashami, Nina Barzegar, Nasim Khorassani, Niloufar Iravani, Anahita Abbassi, and Mina Arissian —are each mesmeric story-tellers. The force of personality fo each voice is compelling; the performances offer the finerst advocacy. Unmissable.
A near miss this year was Janette Filsells’s first (three-disc) volume of organ music by Czech compsoer Petr Eben on Brilliant Classics. Phenomenal performances of phenomenal music, t was just pipped at the post by Sirventès; but it was close.
In my Fanfare reviews, I’ve often celebrated the great artists of the past, perhaps singers most frequently. For my 2023 Want List, I’m gratified to offer a trio of recordings that feature gifted vocalists of our time. In Love and Let Die, German lyric soprano Katharina Ruckgaber brilliantly cultivates and performs a themed lieder recital that succeeds on all counts. Ruckgaber offers a collection of German lied from the 18th-20th centuries that tracks the narrative of a harrowing murder mystery. Both the selection of songs and performances by Ruckgaber and pianist Jan Philip Schulze are brilliant. Another fine recital, Crepuscolo, pairs lyric tenor Timothy Fallon and pianist Ammiel Bushakevitz in performances of songs by Ottorino Respighi. Fallon’s arresting vocal beauty and dramatic involvement are of the highest order. Bushakevitz’s impressive clarity of execution and opulent tone are ideal for Respighi’s piano writing that often suggests orchestral sonorities. My final vocal selection is the world premiere recording of L’Amant Anonyme (The Anonymous Lover) (1780), the only surviving opera composed by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Bologne’s marvelous score benefits from a superb production by Chicago’s Haymarket Opera Co. The vocalists and period instrument Haymarket Opera Orchestra, under the direction of Craig Trompeter, deliver a world class performance. Excellent recorded sound, and a booklet abounding with information and insights, as well as full texts and translations, provide a model for this kind of project.
Charles Schlueter, principal trumpet of the Boston SO from 1981-2006, has long been revered both as a performer and teacher. Retrospective: A Life in Trumpet is a 3-disc survey of performances by Schlueter and colleagues. The collection offers an enticing and gratifying blend of familiar and new repertoire, embracing orchestral, chamber, and solo works. All reflect the craft of a musician that led me to comment in my original review: “There are certain artists whose performances are so exemplary both in artistry and sound quality that, regardless of the repertoire they are playing, one welcomes the opportunity to hear them. For me, such musicians include the likes of tenor Fritz Wunderlich, violinist Nathan Milstein, and hornist Dennis Brain. I place Charles Schlueter in that category as well.” In his book Indirection, Schlueter offers his holistic approach to trumpet playing, and performance in general. In the bargain, Schlueter is an accomplished writer, possessed with a delightful sense of humor. It’s a book that every musician, regardless of performing medium, should read and benefit from. I only wish Indirection had been available during my school years as a failed trumpeter! It would have been a great source of information and encouragement. I don’t think I’d have emerged a fine trumpet player, but I would have had a much better sense of the true path to becoming a musician.
LOVE AND LET DIE Ruckgaber/Schulze SOLO MUSICA 405
RESPIGHI Crepuscolo Fallon/Bushakevitz BIS SACD 2632
SAINT-GEORGES L’Amant Anonyme Trompeter/Cabell/Agpalo/Govertsen; Haymarket Op O CEDILLE 90000 217 (3 CDs)
INDIRECTION: On Becoming a Better Musician and Trumpet Player as a Conceptual Process Schlueter Combray House, 2021, Amherst, MA.
RETROSPECTIVE: A LIFE IN TRUMPET Schlueter, various artists MSR 1821 (3 CD)