Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ladder of Escape (Volume 1) Contemporary Music for Bass Clarinet - Music by Theo Loevendie, Isang Yun, Brian Ferneyhough, Enrique Raxach, Eric Dolphy, Michael Smetanin, Guus Janssen & Martin Wesley-Smith - Harry Sparnaay, Bass clarinet - Attacca 1989

I was going through a couple external hds earlier in search of a rare Ingmar Bergman film ("Music in Darkness" from 1948) that has only been released PAL/Region 2, which I discovered only after buying it :(  It was advertised as "all regions" and only the dvd itself had the regional specs. Pffff!  How and why there are films by one of the greatest directors of all time that are not globally available  or still sitting on shelves in the Janus archives or wherever else - this is just beyond me. Then there are early Bergman films that have never been remastered and only exist as original vhs tapes - how is this possible? Imagine the frustration of cherishing the last 6 or 7 symphonies by any composer but at the same time having almost no opportunity to fall in love with his or her earlier efforts? Or traveling from I dunno, New York to Slovenia just to be able to listen to a brilliant disc with encoding issues (not everyone is aware of blogs or p2p, you know!) Well, this has nothing to do with the music at hand...that is, I just realized lol; sometimes I need to smack myself 'upside the head' or you would be at risk of taking a long dull rant-trip with me. Superfluous eyeball workouts. 

If I upset myself any further over Swedish cinema I'm going to need a dr. and pills flown in from the Island of Faro ;)

The point was that whilst sifting around I found as usual endless amounts of releases that I have no memory of - or barely. The thoroughly contemporary music-making on this cd is one such example. I will say that I just played it through and I'm not that taken with it; the music is for solo bass clarinet, and a couple pieces call for tape as well. There's just a consistency here, which is the music does not vary as much as I would expect. There are interesting moments, but as a whole I'd likely play this in the background. Lovers of more abstract, modern music will enjoy this - of course I  think that counts for perhaps 20% of the visitors here if that! So I hope this description saves you from or whets your modern appetite for the music. If you are familiar with the Attacca "Ladder of Escape" releases well you will want to have this either way. I quite like some of the others, and currently there are 14 volumes.

I'm going to guess that the most familiar names here for listeners are composers Brian Ferneyhough and Isang Yun. I am always an advocate for exploring any art - so even though I managed to make this release sound less than appealing for most ears - it only takes 1 minute to d/l and sample for yourself :)

As I mentioned I do like some of the other volumes, so have a look at the entire series here:

Enjoy or feel perplexed or both


aleX said...

Hey man thanks. This is actually the stuff I prefer. Good holidays to ya.

Anonymous said...

I really look forward to hearing this one. I'm down for anything with the larger sizes of clarinet... such rich & complex sound! Years ago I heard a piece a local composer had written for the combination of bass clarinet & organ. Truly an amazing-sounding combination! Also, Eric Dolphy's tracks with bass clarinet are the ones I enjoy the most. It's too bad he didn't live longer or maybe he would have gone on to work with the contrabass or contra-alto sizes too.

Paul Burton said...

Thank you friend for this good selection. A great share and super sounds. Bass clarinet is so wonderful sounding. Thank you so much for sharing this find. pburton

Tzadik said...

aleX you are welcome - it's nice to see that visitors here enjoy this type of music as well; I certainly do, it's just that this release is not top-drawer for me. The others in the series, some of them I really dig!

Good holidays,


Tzadik said...

Hey anon person thank you for commenting :) I am happy that you are enjoying this release. It is a rich sound, and when it's (bass clarinet) in the spotlight as is the case here - one does not miss any nuances!
Yes, there are (surprisingly) many interesting works for organ and solo instrument - one of the best-known I would think is Hovhaness's Prayer of Saint Gregory for Trumpet and Organ - this is the original version, the trumpet and strings came later. It's sublime, but not a challenging work.

Do you remember anything about the local composer you spoke of?

I have to say I only know a small handful of Dolphy's pieces - maybe four.


Tzadik said...

Welcome Paul and thank you for taking the time to comment! You are very welcome. I do love all types of clarinets myself. Such an emotional instrument and with endless possibilities.


Anonymous said...

Tzadik, sorry, I don't remember the name of the composer of the bass clarinet/organ piece... it must have been a classmate from many years ago (late 80s) when I was studying music theory at UT Austin. I did not realize the Prayer of St. Gregory originally had an organ accompaniment... quite interesting. I have heard pieces for organ & oboe by J.L. Krebs and Josef Rheinberger that were quite impressive. Dolphy played bass clarinet on a surprising number of recordings, both as bandleader and as a sideman for Charles Mingus & others (e.g., on Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz... yes, he's in there...somewhere...)

Anonymous said...

Personally I dislike Ferneyhough's pretentious unfounded alien-styled inhumane chaotic pseudo-random material, which exists only for it’s own sake and creates sensory responses that are not of the composer’s intention, but just happen to occur.

Make no mistake: Ferneyhough is no real composer; and the fact that this has never been accordingly stated or criticized shows the times in which we live: Feed the people any rubbish, with just a hint of added intellectual superiority and they’ll believe it and worship you ‘message’.

... Ferneyhough... the charlatan king of pretentious wishful implication