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Hyperion Records

CKD280 - Fantasía
CKD280

Recording details: October 2004
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Will Brown
Release date: July 2008
Total duration: 61 minutes 4 seconds

'An attractive recital from the charismatic Spanish clarinettist Maximiliano Martín (currently principal of the SCO) made the more so by superbly clean, clear articulation, balanced by ravishingly long-breathed lyrical phrasing and the highly sympathetic partnership provided by Inocencio Negrin. Martin plays with the widest range of dynamic: the first of Lutosławski's Dance Preludes bursts in on the listener with exhilarating point and momentum, and the remaining four are played with great diversity of character and mood. A memorable performance of Debussy's Rapsodie, luminously languorous, soaringly sensuous, is framed by two simpler miniatures of Martin's compatriot Miguel Yuste Moreno, each combining a languidly seductive melody with a brilliant cadenza. The Poulenc Sonata is piquantly witty; Nielsen's early Fantasy is more simplistic, a song-without-words with a lively brief finale; and the programme ends with an entertaining display piece, full of virtuosity, as Antonio Romero y Andía tests his soloist with plentiful bravura. The recording is exceptionally live and immediate, so that the players are virtually at the end of one's room' (Gramophone)

'The principal clarinettist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Maximiliano Martín, has an attractive tone, reliable intonation and nimble technique. All that's missing here, recorded with fidelity, is an incisive, aggressive edge. Without it, the two slow numbers among Lutosławski's five Dance Preludes come off better than the fast movements with which they alternate, the withdrawn opening of Debussy's Rapsodie is more appealing than its explosive end, and the melancholy pianissimo of Poulenc's Sonata makes a greater impression then the strident fortissimos. Despite pianist Inocencio Negrín's excellent contribution, these repertoire works are not completely successful. However, for clarinet buffs there's an early Fantasy by Nielsen; two pieces by the 20th-century clarinet virtuoso and teacher Miguel Yuste Moreno, a Spanish-flavoured 'Picturesque Caprice' and a tuneful 'Melodic Study'; and a 19th-century fantasy on Donizetti by an earlier Spanish clarinettist, Antonio Romero y Andía. Valuable contributions to a recital that's attractively varied—just a bit too mellifluous' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Maximiliano Martín (Scottish Chamber Orchestra) is a superb clarinettist, Inocencio Negrín a pianist of character. Lutosławski's Dance Preludes is hugely inventive in rhythm and melody; Moreno's pieces are atmospheric and inviting; Debussy's Première rapsodie seduces; Poulenc's Sonata is witty, scampering and touching; Nielsen's untypical Fantasy charms; and Antonio Romero y Andía's Donizetti-opera confection is a showpiece. Brilliant playing! Excellent sound!' (ClassicalSource.com)

Fantasía
Allegro molto  [1'01]
Andantino  [2'55]
Allegro giocoso  [1'08]
Andante  [3'38]
Allegro molto  [1'34]

Includes repertoire by Lutosławski, Nielsen, Debussy and Poulenc—accompanied on piano by fellow Spaniard Inocencio Negrín.


Introduction  EnglishEspañol
Witold Lutoslawski (1913–1994)
Lutoslawski was the most significant Polish composer after Szymanowski and one of the major European musical figures of the twentieth century. During the Second World War, Lutoslawski formed a piano duo partnership with Andrzej Panufnik which played in war-torn Warsaw, but much of his music from this period was destroyed. Some of his post-war work, such as his First Symphony, was branded ‘formalist’ by the ruling Soviet authorities, so Lutoslawski concentrated on producing functional music and mostly folk-based pieces. The Dance preludes for clarinet and piano, which he later orchestrated, date from 1954. This was a year after Stalin’s death, which signaled the beginning of a thaw in cultural totalitarianism; that same year Lutoslawski finished his Concerto for Orchestra, the work which established his international reputation. These Dances, alternately fast and slow, celebrate the rhythms and tunes of folk dances from North Poland; Lutoslawski called them his ‘farewell to folklore’.

Miguel Yuste Moreno (1870–1947)
Yuste was a great clarinet virtuoso and teacher, whose reforms to clarinet study at Madrid Conservatory made him a major figure in the development of clarinet playing in Spain in the 20th century. He was orphaned at the age of 8 and taken to Madrid, where he studied initially with José Chacón. In 1883, aged 13, he studied with Manuel González y Val at the Madrid Conservatory where he graduated four years later. Yuste then undertook a busy professional career in opera, theatre and symphony orchestra, together with regular commitments to the municipal band of Madrid. In his thirty years (1910–1940) as the clarinet professor at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid (to give it its full and impressive title) as successor to González, Miguel Yuste devised a highly influential systematic 6-year course of study based on the Romero and Klosé tutors which bears fruit to this day.

Capricho pintoresco, Op 41 starts with the solo clarinet playing a languid melody, which leads to an impressive cadenza before the principal themes are introduced. The piece ends brilliantly.

The clarinet also introduces the initial ideas of Estudio melódico, Op 33. Successive embellishments culminate in a cadenza before the music is re-presented.

Claude Debussy (1862–1918)
Debussy wrote his Première Rhapsodie especially for the annual clarinet graduation recitals or Concours at the Paris Conservatoire in 1910, a year after he had been invited by the director of the Conservatoire, Gabriel Fauré, to join the advisory board of the institution. Most solos de concours were straightforward bi-partite, slow-fast pieces designed to test and display the lyrical and virtuoso sides of a candidate’s abilities. But Debussy uses a group of four themes to alternate lyrical passages with ones demanding digital dexterity, adding mastery of mood and tempo changes to the technical challenges of the Rhapsodie. The Rhapsodie inhabits the same sound-world as the first book of piano preludes, which Debussy finished at around the same time. Though it’s called Première Rhapsodie, Debussy never wrote a Deuxième; perhaps he was making a pun on the fact that successful Conservatoire candidates were awarded a Premier Prix. Having negotiated the Rhapsodie, those same 1910 students were then presented with a piece of accompanied sight reading also by Debussy, published as Petite pièce. Both Rhapsodie and Petit pièce are classics of the clarinet repertoire, and Debussy later orchestrated them both. The Rhapsodie is dedicated to the clarinet professor at the Conservatiore, Prospère Mimart ‘en témoigne de sympathie’ (with an expression of sympathy), and Mimart duly gave the first public performance in January 1911.

Francis Poulenc (1899–1963)
Poulenc’s Clarinet Sonata is one of four works for wind instruments and piano from the composer’s final years; starting with horn Élégie of 1957, there are sonatas for oboe, for flute and for clarinet, and Poulenc may also have been contemplating a bassoon sonata when he died. Poulenc’s other works for clarinet (Sonata for two clarinets and Sonata for clarinet and bassoon) are from his youth and full of the piquancy and wit we have come to associate with him. By contrast, the Clarinet Sonata of 1962 is a more serious work dedicated to the memory of Arthur Honegger though like the earlier works it has three movements, in a fast-slow-fast pattern. After an introduction, the moderate first movement contains music of an almost religious serenity (some of the melodic material bears a resemblance to music from Poulenc’s opera Dialogues des Carmélites). The gentle middle movement is in a contrasting key, and the sonata ends with a sprightly, folksy finale.

Carl Nielsen (1865–1931)
Carl Nielsen’s childhood on the island of Funen, which he touchingly recalled in his biography My childhood, was one of grinding poverty. His father was a house painter and amateur violinist, and often took young Carl to parties at which he played in the dance band. It was at one of these dances that a polka by Carl was first performed. Carl’s other abiding memories of this period were the songs his mother used to sing to him, and these two elements (song and dance) find an outlet in this Fantasy for clarinet and piano by the teenage Nielsen. The Fantasy is in the style of a late 19th century song without words, with a lyrical first section and a very short, animated finale.

Antonio Romero y Andía (1815–1886)
The Spanish clarinettist, teacher, publisher, inventor and manufacturer Antonio Romero y Andía made a notable debut in his native Madrid at the age of fourteen. He was a solo clarinettist for many years, as well as music director of the Royal Court Orchestra and various regimental bands of the Royal Guard. For over quarter of a century, from 1849 to 1876, Romero was Professor at the Madrid Conservatory where he also taught oboe for a time. Romero’s series of Clarinet Methods (one each for 13-keyed, Simple and Boehm System, and Romero System instruments) were of particular importance: he was responsible for the spread of the Boehm system clarinet throughout Spain. However, Romero felt he could improve on the Boehm System and invented the Romero System to overcome various acoustic and fingering challenges. The Romero System did not receive wide acceptance, since it needed a large number of regulating screws for it to perform reliably. In 1854 Romero opened an instrument shop in Madrid, and two years later he founded a music publishing business which became one of the most important in Spain.

Romero’s Fantasía on themes from Lucrezia Borgia is typical of the display pieces of the period with which touring virtuosi thrilled their audiences, with florid cadenzas linking tunes from Donizetti’s opera, the penultimate one of which is subjected to a virtuoso variation.

Andrew Lyle © 2006

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