Crosswinds: Six duets for flute and clarinet by Richard Applin
Todd and Orlando feel very strongly about championing this profound work for many reasons. First it's great, second, they coached with Professor Applin on this piece until they got it right according to his wishes, both at the composers home and in the recording studio. Both interchanging lines make leaps and bounds in their respective ranges, taking turns exchanging solo lines and accompaniment. The two part writing constantly weaves and explores harmonic extensions with tension and release, crafted by years of musical explorations. There are downright Ellintonian references as well that bring out playfulness and noire like intrigue. Professor Applin's tireless exploration of music and various musical mediums truly comes to life in Crosswinds. Unfortunately professor Applin passed away after a long fight with cancer before hearing the final edits of Todd and Orlando's studio recording. The musician community in Boston has lost a true master artist and champion of creative musical exploration.
III Molto Tranquillo
V Laid back, but not too slow
Premiere Rhapsody for solo Clarinet by Claude Debussy
Originally written as a contest piece for the Paris Conservatory in 1910, the Premiere Rhapsody for solo Clarinet has been a beloved main stay in the clarinetists' repertoire for over a century. In his subtle use of color, timbre and nuance, Debussy gives the clarinetist tremendous challenges technically, musically, physically and emotionally. It is on one hand such a subtle and delicate piece and at the other, a powerful tour de force. To get away from the “contest” and get into the pure musicality at hand, American clarinetist Atilio Poto once described the Rhapsody as a “Flowing dream with rich subtle variants that guide the dream-scape as the story unfolds”. 2015 was an incredibly exciting year. At the end of it, the Eric Hofbauer Quintet was listed again on two separate blogs as both the top ten best classical music recordings of 2015: http://www.theartsdesk.com/classical-music/best-2015-classical-cds and the best jazz recording of 2015: http://www.birdistheworm.com/bird-is-the-worm-best-of-2015-albums-6-10/
It is clear that Debussy's influence on jazz is very strong with his mixture of diatonicism, chromaticism and modal harmony, in particular his use of pentatonic scales. For instance, the first real flowing line for the clarinetist, is in two parts. At first its clear that Debussy is using a minor pentatonic scale and then in part two of the phrase, as the line ascends, he adapts a flat 9. As the phrase builds there is a powerful C going to a D#, a sharp 9, but in his usual defiant musical sensibility, breaks from the minor mode by returning to the parallel major at the end. Of course he also beautifully uses augmented intervals just to stretch the build up and tension with a musical question. Using a strong major-minor feel would clearly bring up 'the blues' as a way of embracing much of Debussy's sentiment for the Rhapsody. Even at the end of the piece, his use of the #9 (D# E G triplet) and subsequent wailing run, could be the original influence for the ultimate orchestral jazzy riff- the very beginning of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.
On January 9, we went into Rotary Records in W Springfield to work with our friend Warren Amerman. the results I'm sure will be amazing. Opal Ensemble was just awarded grants from the Arlington and Lexington Cultural Councils to do two separate programs and Paul, Anne and I are thrilled! The Arlington concert will take place at noon at Arlington Town Hall on February 19 and feature a world premiere by our friend David Owens. The Lexington Concert will happen on April 16. More details about our concerts and sites and sounds of Opal Ensemble, please visit us online at: http://opalensemble.com/