Julien Herve, Jean-hisanori Sugitani / Waiting For Benny: A Tribute to Benny Goodman (2013)

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Julien Herve, Jean-hisanori Sugitani / Waiting For Benny: A Tribute to Benny Goodman (2013)

Julien Herve, Jean-hisanori Sugitani / Waiting For Benny: A Tribute to Benny Goodman (2013)
EAC Rip | Flac (Image + cue + log) | 265 MB | MP3 320Kbps CBR | 164 MB | 1 CD | Full Scans
Genre: Classical | Label: Naxos | Catalog Number: 8573032


Renowned as a virtuoso jazz clarinetist and legendary bandleader, Benny Goodman is also remembered for the works he commissioned from leading composers of his day. Poulenc's strikingly beautiful Clarinet Sonata was his last composition, while Bernstein's was his first published piece. Both Gershwin and Stravinsky added their distinctive stamp to the swing vibe which was all the rage in the early 20th century. The jazz flavour of Morton Gould's Benny's Gig is heightened by the unusual coupling of clarinet and double bass, while pungent folk rhythms define Bartók's virtuoso Contrasts.
Composer: Francis Poulenc, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Igor Stravinsky, ...
Performer: Julien Herve, Jean-Hisanori Sugitani, Ying Lai Green, Maud Lovett Reviews: First, let me say that the clarinetist on this disc, Julien Hervé, is a fantastic musician with quick fingers and a velvety tone that can turn sassy as needed. I've known all these pieces for many years and these performances are right at the top. I'm even one of that dwindling number of people who actually heard Benny Goodman and Joseph Szigeti play Bartók's 'Constrasts', and this performance by Hervé, Lovett and Sugitani does not take a back seat to their classic recording made with Bartók at the piano.

The other works here are certainly classics for the clarinetists of their era. Poulenc's sonata was the very last thing he wrote before his death in 1963. He was in poor health and yet the outer movements have all the sauciness Poulenc was famous for. The middle movement, however, is one of Poulenc's cries of the soul, reminiscent of some things from his opera, 'Dialogues of the Carmelites'. The work was premièred a couple of months after Poulenc's death by Goodman with Leonard Bernstein at the piano.

Aptly then, the next piece is by Bernstein himself, one of his very early works. He was 23 when he wrote it and it was his first published piece. It was not written for Goodman and I don't know if he ever played it. It wasn't as well known in the 1940s as it is now; every student now plays it at least partly because it is jazzy and 'modern' sounding in the sense of being mildly dissonant.

I have to admit that I had a small problem with hearing Gershwin's Three Preludes, largely because for years I played them in their original piano-only form, had not heard them as arranged for clarinet and piano, and could not get the sound of piano-alone out of my ears. On relistening, though, I hear that the arrangement by James Cohn is expert and easy to like. The jazzy portamenti do remind one of that famous gliss at the beginning of Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue.'

Stravinsky's 'Three Pieces' for solo clarinet were written in 1918, long before Goodman (b. 1909) was playing. But Stravinsky became a fan of jazz clarinet and wrote his 'Ebony Concerto' for Woody Herman in 1945; Benny Goodman recorded it a few years later under the baton of Stravinsky himself. The brief 'Three Pieces' are given soulful readings here by Hervé.

Morton Gould wrote 'Benny's Gig', eight duos for clarinet and double bass (!); seven of them were written for Goodman in 1962 to take on tour to Russia, the eighth was written for Goodman's 70th birthday in 1979. The eight pieces take just under fifteen minutes and are a real workout for both instrumentalists. A good word must be put in for bassist Ying Lai Green.

This is definitely a keeper. And it has already gone on my iPod, a thumbs up from me."

Tracklisting:

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
[1]-[3] Clarinet Sonata (1962)

Leonard Bernstein (1918-90)
[4]-[5] Clarinet Sonata (1941-42)

George Gershwin (1898-1937)
[6]-[8] Three Preludes (arr. James Cohn) (1926/87)

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
[9]-[11] Three Pieces for solo clarinet (1918)

Morton Gould (1913-96)
[12]-[19] Benny's Gig (1962/79)

Béla Bartók (1881-1945)
[20]-[22] Contrasts (1938-40)

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Tags: Julien, Sugitani, Waiting, Tribute, Goodman

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