Vibraciones del Alma - Maximiliano Martin - McAlister Matheson Music

New from Linn this month is a recital disc that features clarinettist Maximiliano Martín (principal clarinettist of the SCO) and pianist Scott Mitchell. Entitled Vibraciones del Alma (Vibrations of the Soul) it is a combination of virtuosic pieces from a host of European composers that takes the listener on an aural tour from Spain via France and Britain and ending in Germany. The opening work is by Spanish composer Miguel Yuste and is the work from which the disc takes its title. The piece allows Martín's flawless technique to be displayed to the full and that coupled with his beautifully rich tone across all registers assures me that this disc is a winner. Next is a typically French Solo de Concours by Henri Rabaud, written as a competition piece for the Paris Conservatoire in 1901. Following the dramatic opening (a hint of what's to come) is a slow section that demonstrates Martín's superb breath control within sustained passages. John McCabe's Three Pieces for Clarinet and Piano Op. 26 is the work that elevates this disc from a flashy encores recital to something else. The three movements are bound by a twelve-tone row and this sound world has an immediately refreshing effect. The opening is contemplative in nature and the use of prolonged sustained notes from the outset echoes the solo clarinet movement from Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. McCabe uses the piano as an equal to the clarinet and at times it seems he pitches the two instruments against each other which results in a thoroughly heated debate! The Brazilian dance-form used in the second movement typifies McCabe's eclectic style, whilst the final Fantasy movement wends its way through a wealth of ideas that put even further demands on both musicians, who meet them in full. The cherry on top of the cake is Weber's Grand Duo Concertante. Notorious for its virtuosity in both parts, it makes a perfect end to this disc. Of all the works Weber wrote for clarinet this is certainly the most entertaining with its effervescent opening, operatic second movement and thrilling finale here dispatched with the utmost finesse - a rapt conclusion to this superb recording.

08 July 2009