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Cantus. Ollea. Solo for Clarinet. …ni una sombre. Arietta.

Jörg Widmann, clarinet; Moijca Erdmann, soprano; Axel Bauni, piano; WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Peter Rundel, conductor.

Capriccio C5020, 62:31.,

Review by Steve Koenig

This set of compositions for clarinet stars Jörg Widmann, also a composer.

Cantus is a clarinet concerto. It begins with a yearning clarinet solo. Other instruments and string strokes pop up like new sprouts in spring. I disagree with the liner-writer who hears death in this concerto, and as an aspect of Reimann's music in general. There is some playing inside of the piano, and playing around by the instruments: hide-and-go-seek and ring-around-the-rosy. Groups chasing soloists and other groups. Conductor Peter Rundel is perhaps best known to our readers for his work on Nono's Prometeo (EMI) and Heiner Goebbel's Surrogate Cities (ECM).

Ollea sets four poems by Heinrich Heine, but this is not your Schumann or Schubert lied. It's more in the vein of Berio (no, not the Folk Song Arrangements) and Henze. I haven't looked up the texts and translations, neither provided in the booklet. Reimann uses repetitive phrases, some lines spoken imperatively or accusingly, whispers. Intricate melismas. Soprano Mojca Erdman navigates these with ease, and they are striking.

Solo is a worthy nine-minute exploration of terrain rather than time or timbre, despite a moment of multiphonic honking.

…ni una sombra is a trio for soprano, clarinet and piano with a text from Rückert and Porchia. It runs seventeen minutes, the piano sounds like a harpsichord, and is the only work here that doesn't touch me.

The disc closes with Arietta, a lovely, five-minute piece for solo basettclarinet (which at first I misread as bass clarinet; the notes say nothing about this instrument.)

I have to remark, without complaint, on the hilarity of the English translation of the liner notes, not to mention the typos and misspellings, but the ideas do come through. Most of which I find a vain attempt to prove the writer's premise that Reimann's themes (for this disc, specifically) are "breath, love, songs, and facing death." That this could be said of nearly anything doesn't help.

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