This high resolution mastering of David Howard is made possible by generous support from Buffet Crampon USA and Vandoren USA
Graphic design: Erin Hauber
Cover photo: Los Angeles Philharmonic (Craig Mathew)
Session photography: Yarlung Records
Tracks 1 & 5-8 recorded 9/4/07 in Zipper Hall at Colburn School, Bob Attiyeh, recording engineer
Tracks 2-4 recorded live 2/27/07 and tracks 9-12 recorded live 5/8/07 by Fred Vogler in Walt Disney Concert Hall
Stucky: Meditation and Dance
Composer, conductor, writer, lecturer, teacher and winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in
Music, Steven Stucky has enjoyed the longest uninterrupted association between
an American orchestra and a living composer. Appointed the Los Angeles
Philharmonic's Composer in Residence in 1988 by Sir Andre Previn, Stucky now
serves as the Philharmonic's Consulting Composer for New Music. In addition to
helping sort through a bewildering variety of new music which regularly appears
in the orchestra's subscription series, Stucky works closely with Music
Director Esa-Pekka Salonen on the selection of new commissions and the
development of programs for young people. He also serves as the
all-but-official host of the orchestra's celebrated "Green Umbrella" series,
during which he leads lively discussions with participating musicians.
Composed in 2004 on a commission from the Friends of New Music program of the Music
Teachers' Association of California, Stucky's Meditation and Dance was designed in the grand tradition of Debussy's Premiere Rhapsodie and countless other Paris Conservatory audition works as a test piece for student clarinetists. Shortly after finishing Meditation and
Dance-heard here in its world premiere
recording-the composer realized it is clearly the province of experienced (and
Unlike famous conductors from Wilhelm Furtwängler to Lorin Maazel who also happened to
compose, Esa-Pekka Salonen is a composer who became a conductor for purely
practical reasons. As he has said with disarming candor: "While at school, I
realized that if anyone was going to conduct my music it would probably be me,
since there were few other candidates vying for the honor." Along with his
studies in composition at the Sibelius Academy with Einojuhani Rautavaara, he
was also a member of Jorma Panula's now legendary conducting class which also
produced Osmo Vänskä, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Sakari Oramo and Mikko Franck. While
some of Salonen's early works like Music for Horn I
and II were written for his
principal instrument-he was a pupil of the great Finnish horn player Holger
Fransman-one of the earliest works he still acknowledges is Nachtlieder, dedicated to the clarinetist Kullervo Kojo, who introduced it
on September 30, 1978.
Cast in four brief movements, Nightsongs
clearly draws some of its inspiration from the Four Pieces,
Op. 4 by Alban Berg. Yet along with the rigorous intellectual organization of
the Second Viennese School, Salonen's early piece already hints at the clarity
and wit that would become hallmarks of his later style. "It may sound a bit crazy,"
Salonen has said, "but I actually think of myself more as a composer than a
His recent decision to step down as Music Director of the Los
Angeles Philharmonic to allow himself more time to compose only underscores
Ustvolskaya: Clarinet Trio
A virtual hermit who refused to give interviews and despised having her picture
taken, Galina Ustvolskaya was one of the most distinctive and accomplished
voices of Soviet music. She was also by far the most distinguished pupil of Dmitri
Shostakovich, who said: "I am convinced that the music of G. I. Ustvolskaya
will achieve worldwide renown, to be valued by all who perceive truth in music
to be of paramount importance." Ustvolskaya studied with Shostakovich at the
Leningrad Conservatory between 1939 and 1947. He thought so highly of her work
and opinions that he often sent unfinished works for her comments, and actually
quoted the second theme from the finale of her Clarinet Trio in his Fifth
String Quartet and Michelangelo Suite.
The fact that the two apparently had a brief affair during the War did not
prevent the two composers from remaining friends until Shostakovich's death.
her early works showed unmistakable signs of Shostakovich's influence, traces
of her mentor's style had clearly vanished by the early 1950s. "There is no
link whatsoever between my music and that of any other composer, living or
dead," she once said, and the works of her maturity clearly support this claim.
While not a musical radical in the Western sense, her concentrated, rigorously
organized music was often criticized for its unwillingness to communicate with
a larger audience. Apart from scattered patriotic pieces, few of her works were
performed regularly prior to the fall of the Soviet Union. Until her death in
2006, she lived quietly in a tiny apartment in Prospekt Gagarina, apparently
indifferent to both praise and neglect.
in 1949, the Clarinet Trio is the pivotal work in Ustvolskaya's tiny output. As
she herself insisted, "All my music from this composition on is ‘spiritual' in
nature." While the composer was predictably silent on the nature of the
spiritual conflict which animates the Trio, the tension between the poignant
clarinet melody and the ominous piano figure in the opening Espressivo never fully dissipates in either the deceptively tranquil Dolce
or the ferociously driven Energico.
thing is abundantly clear: Shostakovich was not merely being polite when he
insisted "It is not you who are influenced by me; rather, it is I who am
influenced by you."
Brahms: Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in B minor, Op. 115
Although Brahms was only fifty-seven at the time he completed the G Major String Quintet
in December of 1890, he was beginning to feel his career had come to an end. In
a note dispatched with the manuscript to his publisher Simrock, he wrote: "With
this letter you can bid farewell to my music-because it is certainly time to
leave off." In the following year, he drew up a will-the so-called "Ischl
testament"-and shortly thereafter began going through his unpublished
manuscripts, consigning everything he considered unworthy to the flames.
Fortunately for posterity, he soon met the clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld, whose
brilliant playing would eventually inspire the greatest work written for the
instrument since Mozart's.
the summer of 1891, Brahms was writing a clarinet trio for Mühlfeld and in a
letter to his friend Eusebius Mandyczewski mentioned "a far greater piece of
foolishness" that he was endeavoring "to nurse along." The "foolishness" proved
to be the crowning work of the instrument's chamber music literature, the B
Minor Clarinet Quintet on this album.
opening Allegro begins with one
of those amiable themes that the composer characterized as unscheinbarket-unobtrusive-although contained within this lovely melody are
all the thematic seeds from which the rest of the Quintet will grow. A bold
staccato transition leads to the secondary theme, derived from the first
theme's rapid passage work.
in that celebrated mood of autumnal melancholy that haunts all of Brahms' later
works, the Adagio is introduced by a serene melody in the
clarinet, supported by an idea in the viola derived from the first movement's
opening theme. Following a wild, gypsy-like central section dominated by the
clarinet's passionate improvisations, the wistful mood of the opening returns.
charming Andantino begins with an expansive clarinet melody again
derived from the Quintet's opening theme, after which a giddy, light-footed Presto
develops the opening phrase of the Andantino melody.
in the Mozart Clarinet Quintet, the finale, Con moto,
is cast in variation form, each of the five variations exploring an aspect of a
theme with several family ties to the Andantino
melody. In the coda, Brahms recalls the Quintet's opening theme in its original
form, as though to remind the listener of the unobtrusive seed from which grew
one of the most monumental of chamber works.
The Brahms Quintet is a clarinetist's dream. It is a piece of music that mines and
celebrates the deepest expressive possibilities of my instrument. It stands
proudly as the core of our repertoire and remains central to our collective
musical consciousness. We are delighted to include this live performance from
Walt Disney Concert Hall on this album. Galina Ustvolskaya's trio may be as
austere and brooding as the Brahms quintet is warm and expansive. I love both.
Interestingly, the technical challenges are similar. But Ustvolskaya's creation
is musically much more difficult. Her work is both emotionally removed from our
contemporary experience, and terrifically exciting to hear and to play. I
learned much as we opened this Stalinist time capsule. I am particularly happy
to include music of two contemporary composers with whom I have worked closely
for many years. I thank my friends Esa-Pekka Salonen and Steve Stucky for their
indelible musical impact on me and on the musical life of Los Angeles. They've
enriched so many with their invention, musical intellect and artistic
integrity. And they've challenged me as they found engaging ways to expand the
clarinet's musical vocabulary.
David Howard, clarinet
Clarinetist David Howard joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1981 when he was 25 years
old, hired by Music Director Carlo Maria Giulini. During the 2006-2007 season,
he performed and gave master classes at international festivals in Tel Aviv,
Vancouver, Helsinki, Beijing, and Stockholm. As a chamber musician he
concertizes widely in southern California, and recently performed live for the
BBC in Edinburgh and earlier for WFMT at the Dame Myra Hess Memorial concert series
in Chicago. With the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Howard
performed as soloist in John Harbison's Concerto for Oboe, Clarinet and Strings
under the direction of the composer; he was also the bass clarinet soloist in
Iannis Xenakis' Échange,
conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Since 1986, Howard has served on the faculty of
the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California.
Previously, Howard was principal clarinetist with the New Jersey Symphony and
the New Haven Symphony. A Los Angeles native, he received a B.A. in Russian literature from Yale University. Howard's recordings include a
collaboration with former Los Angeles Philharmonic pianist Zita Carno for the
Centaur label entitled Capriccio: Mid-Century Music for Clarinet, including works of Leonard Bernstein, Paul Hindemith, and
David plays nickel-plated Buffet R13
clarinets. For our recording he used a Vandoren B40 mouthpiece, Vandoren
traditional number 3 reeds, and a Rovner dark ligature. For the works by Steve
Stucky and Esa-Pekka Salonen which we recorded September 4, 2007 in Zipper Hall
at Colburn School, Vicki plays Steinway Concert & Artists piano number 599
made in New York, thanks to support from Steinway & Sons (New York) and
David Ida at Fields Pianos in Los Angeles. For the trio by Galina Ustvolskaya,
Vicki plays New York Steinway # 562930, chosen for the opening of Walt Disney
Concert Hall with the help of Hélène Grimaud. Violinist Johnny Lee plays an
instrument made in 1807 by Pirot. In the Brahms quintet, first violinist Lyndon
Taylor plays the Perkins Stradavarius from 1708, Kristine Hedwall plays a
Carletti violin made in 1941, John Hayhurst plays a Sgarabotto viola from 1908,
and cellist Gloria Lum plays a Vincenzo Postiglione, built in 1877.
We wish to thank Gail Eichenthal who first suggested Yarlung Records produce this
recording. Many thanks to Deborah Borda, Adam Crane and Michele Zukovsky at the
Los Angeles Philharmonic, to Craig Mathew of Mathew Imaging for our photograph
of David in Walt Disney Concert Hall, to Andrea Bell and Benjamin Maas, and to
Jim Svejda for our liner notes.
For the Zipper recordings, Gearworks Pro Audio gave us the
use of two matched Neumann U-47 microphones with their original VF14M
tubes, which are metal-clad pentode tubes configured as triodes. We spent eight
hours setting the microphones, making many adjustments, half-centimeter at a
time. We wanted to avoid making further adjustments in mastering. There are no
adjustments to the EQ
of the Zipper recordings. We made all "EQ adjustments" with
microphone placement at the start. It is always our goal to record this way,
and we succeeded similarly with Evening Conversations released in 2006, and Orion, Dialoghi,
Inner World: Music by David Lefkowitz, Joanne Pearce Martin: Barefoot, and Ryan MacEvoy McCullough in Concert among others to be released in 2008.
For this recording we used short (five feet) stranded silver interconnects designed
by Yarlung Records, customized vacuum tube microphone preamplifiers, no mixer,
and recorded directly to two tracks sampled at 176,400 samples per second at 24
bit depth. Engineers Steve Hoffman, Kevin Gray and I worked at AcousTech
Mastering at Record
Technology Inc. in Camarillo to convert these high resolution
tracks to CD
Bob Attiyeh, producer