Maximiliano Martín - clarinet
Scott Mitchell - piano
Vibraciones del Alma / Vibrations of the Soul
Click here to view the booklet in Spanish.
Vibraciones del Alma aims to combine different virtuosic pieces from several international composers. In a way, it is a journey from different countries striving to present the qualities and peculiarities of each culture. When listening to this album, you will be able to enjoy pieces from lesser-known composers such as Yuste, Widor and Romero, as well as by the more established composer Weber and also the contemporary composer John McCabe. With Vibraciones del Alma or "Vibrations of the Soul" we hope that, as the name suggests, this recording will touch your heart and soul.
© Scott Mitchell and Maximiliano Martín - March 2009
Miguel Yuste (1870-1947) - Vibraciones del Alma, Op.45 (pub. 1953)
While the precise number of pieces written by Miguel Yuste Moreno is unknown, his seven published works for clarinet form a significant part of the popular Spanish clarinet repertoire. Vibraciones del Alma is one of the more challenging of Yuste's works, requiring the performer to display incredibly virtuosic technique and a unique sense of creativity and musicality. This piece can be split into three contrasting sections. The first comprises frequent use of chromaticism that is very typical of Spanish folk music and Yuste's unique style. A modulation to G major signifies the beginning of the second section in which Yuste uses a change in time signature and an abundance of parallel thirds in the accompaniment, also typical of Spanish folk music. The final section remains in 2/4, but the key changes to the minor with a lyrical melody and harmonic rhythms implying a slower tempo. The minor third intervals in the accompaniment and the stress on penultimate beats further imply a significant influence from Spanish folk music.
Henri Rabaud (1873-1949) - Solo de Concours, Op.10 (1901)
A French conductor and composer, Rabaud is most recognised for his vocal scores. However, he also wrote music for chorus and orchestra and two symphonies. Rabaud's chamber music includes several works for cello and piano as well as the Solo de Concours for clarinet and piano, a virtuosic competition piece written for a graduation and a solo competition at the Paris Conservatory in 1901. It is a popular piece in every clarinettist's repertoire and easily recognisable as a competition piece. It opens with a virtuosic yet melodic clarinet cadenza, supported by a pedal in the piano part. This leads into a contrasting lyrical section, the beautiful melody enhanced by the smooth and warm tone that the clarinet is known for. The mood soon livens up again as the piece drives towards the end with a flurry of impressive scales and arpeggios.
Antonio Romero (1815-1885) - Primer Solo de Concierto para Clarinete (1874)
Born in Madrid, Antonio Romero y Andía is responsible for teaching a long line of influential figures in the Spanish clarinet tradition, including Miguel Yuste and Julián Menéndez (1895-1975). These three clarinettist-composers are known for being the "fathers" of Spanish clarinet playing. A solo clarinettist and director of the Royal Court Orchestra, Romero is perhaps best known for producing an incredibly influential work called the Método Completo para Clarinete de Trece Llaves (A Complete Method for the Clarinet of Thirteen Keys) which he believed could enhance the standard Boehm system. In 1853, it was officially labelled "Sistema Romero" (Romero System) with diverse parts for each educational level. Romero taught the clarinet using his own system at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid from 1849-1876. Primer Solo Original para Clarinete o para Oboe, (now known as the Primer Solo de Concierto para Clarinete) was published in 1874 and dedicated to the oboist and clarinettist Enrique Marzo, his business associate.
John McCabe (b.1939) - Three Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op.26 (1964)
Born in Liverpool, John McCabe is a composer, pianist and writer. A prolific composer from an early age, McCabe had written thirteen symphonies by the time he was eleven and was awarded a CBE in 1983 for his services to music. At an early stage, it became apparent that McCabe was emerging as an exciting new composer who was very much in touch with the trends of twentieth century music (including jazz) and was not afraid to push the boundaries. His style has been said to combine the rhythms of Bartók and Stravinsky with Nielsen's sense of key. The Three Pieces for Clarinet and Piano are bound together by a twelve-tone row, although the overall nature of the music is not particularly atonal. The first is a "night-piece" (Nocturne) using an aria-like texture, contrasting rubato sections with melodic phrases and irregular chordal patterns. The following Improvisation combines the rhythm of the Bossa Nova, a Brazilian dance-form which was especially popular during the early 1960s, with some complex rhythmic interplay between the instruments to give a somewhat jazzy feel. The final Fantasy is slightly longer and has something in common with the Classical fantasia form. It asks both players to generate energy and virtuosity and concludes with a soloistic flourish.
Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937) - Introduction et Rondo, Op.72 (1898)
Charles-Marie Jean Albert Widor was a French organist, composer and teacher. In 1870 Widor was appointed organist of Saint-Sulpice in Paris, the most prominent position for a French organist, and remained there for 64 years. The Introduction et Rondo, Op.72, for clarinet and piano, was composed in 1898, the same year as the Suite, Op.34 for flute and piano, as a second year test piece for the Paris Conservatoire. It was dedicated to Cyrille Rose, principal clarinettist of the Paris Opera Orchestra at the time. Widor's music is known for being exceptionally virtuosic, an element which is certainly evident in this piece. It is very much a showpiece and comprises great contrasts of beautifully lyrical phrases with lots of technically demanding bravura passages.
Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) - Grand Duo Concertant, Op.48 (1815-16)
Weber is arguably one of the most prolific composers for the clarinet, sensing and exploiting the clarinet's expressive potential in all of his music. Weber was influenced by the clarinettist Heinrich Bærmann (1784-1847), who was the principal clarinettist of the Munich Orchestra. Weber wrote several pieces for him including the Concertino, Op.26, two clarinet concertos and the famous Quintet. The Grand Duo Concertant, Op.48 is arguably the earliest important work for clarinet and piano, in which Weber's skill for operatic writing is portrayed throughout. Unlike every other composition that he wrote for the clarinet, it was not written for Bærmann. Instead it was written for Johann Hermstedt (1778-1846) who is more often associated with another Romantic composer for the clarinet, Ludwig Spohr (1784-1859). In the first movement (Allegro) the opening clarinet statement, heard over vigorous quavers from the piano, immediately suggests that this is a duo in which the virtuosic solo parts are equal. Scales in thirds and sixths allow the clarinet and piano to complement and imitate one another, occasionally fighting for supremacy. Only in the second subject, a gentle melody marked lusingando (coaxingly), does the piano assume a more accompanying role. The scales subside and a lilting operatic melody shines through portraying a mood of serenity. This does not last long though, as the duo delves into a series of con fuoco scales bringing the movement to a brilliant close. The second movement (Andante con moto) opens very subtly but soon expands, exploring the expansive range of the colours and dynamics of the clarinet. It could be likened to a passionate operatic aria, very typical of Weber. The scalar motives of the first movement return in the Rondo (Allegro) but in a swinging compound time. After a brief recitativo middle section, again likened to a piece of vocal score, the piece closes with a fantastic display of scales and arpeggios in both parts.
© Nicola Turner, March 2009
Recorded at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, September 2008
Mixed and mastered by Philip Hobbs
Post-production by Julia Thomas, Finesplice
Photos of Maximiliano Martín by Ken Dundas
Photos of Scott Mitchell by David Charles
Photo of Maximiliano Martín & Scott Mitchell and sleeve design by © John Haxby 2009
With thanks to - Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama in Glasgow, Buffet Clarinets in Paris and the Wind Section in Edinburgh.