Kimberly Cole Luevano (cl); Midori Koga (pn); Lindsey Kesselman (sop)
FLEUR DE SON 58019 (61:53)
These are the world premiere recordings of both Roshanne Etezady’s 2007 duet for clarinet and piano,
, and Abbie Bettinis’s 2008 song cycle,
, Etezady’s music describes several of the structures that architect Mary Colter designed at the Grand Canyon during the first part of the 20th century.
Lookout Studio, Phantom Ranch, Hopi House, Hermit’s Rest,
Bright Angel Lodge
are all major historical landmarks. In her musical descriptions, Etezady writes fluently for clarinet and piano in a fascinating mix of styles that makes use of a tapestry of tonal colors and a plethora of rhythmic textures that range from simple melodies to boogie woogie and clarinet pyrotechnics. Besides the Colter structures, Etezady also draws us into a
, a Hopi Indian sacred place, which she describes with clarinet alone. The change to a single almost acid tone brings out the stark drama of the Hopi religion. Then as a contrast, she brings us to the
with a singable old hymn tune and finishes the piece in a blaze of virtuosity with
. Clarinetist Kimberly Cole Luevano is a most skillful artist who answers Etzady’s call to virtuosity with perfect runs while pianist Midori Koga accompanies her with clear and accurate pianism. Abbie Bettinis wrote
(Night Songs) to the Norwegian poetry of Rolf Jacobsen. The cycle begins with a sunset in which the red sky is likened to blood. The second song says: “All people are children when they sleep. There’s no war in them then.” From that point forward, the verses describe states of sleep and dreaming. In
Mose, Rust og Moll
(Moss, Rest, and Moths), ghostly white insects gather on the windowpanes of Heaven and stare at the city lights. With single syllables and cascades of staccato coloratura, soprano Lindsay Kesselman sings of words that hide in the shadows. The creamy middle register of her lyric voice describes the streetlamp standing alone in its brightness as it wards off the darkness. She has a fully loaded palette of tone color that she blends with the exquisite playing of Cole Luevano.
, the penultimate song, sings of the ebb and flow of nature. The poet says: “As the fountain’s glittering dust springs up and falls back into itself, all my days come from somewhere inside me, doled out in a bowl of stone.” Morning comes, as it always does, with a call to action. Voice and clarinet discuss the coming of the light as the seabirds swirl in the sky like snow and wake the sleeping land dwellers with cries that resemble Schoenberg’s
Fantasy (…Those Harbor Lights),
Joan Tower gives us another chance to meditate on night. She makes good use not only of the clarinet’s silvery high notes, but also of its woody low tones. Thus the piano can rise above it to play the shimmering flecks that light the boats and glisten on the water below. There is a comparable performance by clarinetist Robert Spring and pianist Eckart Sellheim on Summit Records, but currently it is only available as an MP3 download.
is a rather old-fashioned slang term for a clarinet. Libby Larsen uses it to denote the instrument whose virtuosity she exhibits in her 2002 jazz-infused bravura piece, which Cole Luevano and Koga play with consummate skill. There is a comparable rendition by clarinetist Stefan Harg and pianist Katarina Strom-Harg available on an all-Larsen disc. Kimberly Cole Luevano and Midori Kogan play all of the music on this Fleur de Son disc with exquisite tone colors, but the real star of this offering is the soprano, Lindsay Kesselman. Her singing is simply gorgeous. The sound on the disc is clear and well balanced. This music will not only interest everyone who wants to hear the latest clarinet disc, but also those who love fine vocal music.