I have a CD of music by American composers being released on 11th September 2015 on the Metier Records division of Divine Art Recording Group (isn't this a time? msv 28533). Whilst it is a disc for solo clarinet, one will actually also hear voice, piano and percussion!
What I enjoy about the collection of composers I chose to record is their individuality of outlook and the challenges they throw up for one to deal with, both musical and practically. I also enjoy the links between them, some of which are very close, some tenuous, but nonetheless of note. Wolff and Cage are an obvious pairing; Johnson studied with Feldman, who was close to Cage and Wolff (and Earle Brown, the other composer in the close Cage circle of the 1950s). Mandat is a friend of Smith and, inspired by his discovery of new techniques for clarinet, has gone on to explore his own fascinating sound world. Barney Childs was a wonderful maverick, much respected for that by many.
It took me some time to arrive at the pieces to record. I didn’t want to record a series of unaccompanied works for clarinet. That doesn’t interest me. Indeed not all the pieces were originally written for the instrument. The disc is not about the clarinet per se, but about music that asks the performer some different musical and practical, as opposed to purely instrumental, questions.
I wished to include music by some composers with whom I have, or had, personal contact. Bill Smith I have known since the early 1970s, and has been an inspiration to me; Christian Wolff and I have met up and worked together a number of times since the 1980s. I find the, often huge, interpretative challenges he throws up in his works highly stimulating; Barney Childs and I performed together once, had a splendid al fresco Sunday lunch in my garden in East Dulwich, and met a couple of other times. He was a crusty delight. Knowing composers personally is important to me in thinking about the music and preparing performances. I feel a much closer involvement with them and their music.
The focus on American composers was not planned. It simply came out that way, and I find that interesting. They all have not only a strongly personal creative spirit, but a continual wish to explore ‒ to explore all sorts of different things that interest them. I admire that and enjoy working with the fruits of their explorations. I hope you too might enjoy this small sample of their work. Copies of the disc may be purchased on a separate page of this site.