CD review: Time Pieces

A review by Andrew Roberts

Time Pieces – 60 Years of American Music for Clarinet and Piano Clarinet Classics CC0054
Peter Furniss clarinet
David Leiher Jones piano

A interesting mix of works, starting with the familiar Bernstein Sonata, which is performed with poise and excellent tempos with flowing phrases throughout by both artists.

The Muczynski Time Pieces (1985) are perhaps a bit less familiar to some. The first performance was given by the dedicatee Mitchel Lurie and the composer in 1983 since then they have rapidly become an accepted major work in the contemporary clarinet repertoire. They are challenging and interesting in equal measure a real favourite of mine and played here with great control and technique in even the most demanding moments. The sound of the clarinet in some louder dynamics is a little harsh which I am sure is a common problem for recording engineers with the wide range and dynamics.

For me the most interesting piece is the world premiere recording (written for Peter Furniss) of Michael Kaulkin’s American Standard. It is a delightful tonal composition of some 9 minutes with contrasted sections. Guastavino- like in style and a valuable addition to the contemporary repertoire, just need to find the publisher…

The other lesser known works are the interesting and varied Sonata, another world premiere recording, by Richard Dudas (again commissioned by the performer), which is Rhapsodic and energetic in an appealing and individual style with familiar Copland-esque and 12 note Berg like moments is another valuable addition.

The James Cohn Sonatina dates from 1981 Written for Jon Manasse is a playful burlesque style work which is very appealing.

The final work, and rather more familiar, the Hillandale waltzes (1942) by Victor Babin, are 8 movements on a theme by Hummel, which have been recorded by several fine players. The playing here stands good comparison with any that I have heard and is well thought out and musically interesting. The recording is generally good and the balance between the clarinet and piano is excellent. Highly recommended!