Black Bird - Fors / Bjelland
Classical - Chamber
Stravinsky, Saint-Saëns, Schumann, Grieg, Madsen etc.
Fredrik Fors (clarinet)
Sveinung Bjelland (piano)
Few woodwind instruments have appealed as much to composers' imagination as the clarinet. Its remarkable propensity for timbral variation - from the softest, barely audible tone to piercing, almost desperate sounds make it particularly suited to expressing the whole gamut of human emotion. Clarinettist Fredrik Fors and pianist Sveinung Bjelland have assembled a comprehensive menu of musical delicacies for this recording. In music by composers as Stravinsky, Saint-Saëns, Schumann, Grieg, Madsen and others, we are taken on a journey in sound which covers the entire spectrum of expression, from fragile, relaxed and inquisitive to brilliantly virtuosic.
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- Edvard Grieg: Lyric Pieces for Piano, Op. 43: No. 1 Sommerfugl
- Edvard Grieg: Lyric Pieces for Piano, Op. 43: No. 5 Erotik
- Edvard Grieg: Lyric Pieces for Piano, Op. 43: No. 6 Til foråret
- Kyrre Sassebo Haaland: Sort Fugl (Black Bird)
- Johan Kvandaal: Fantasy for Solo Clarinet
- Trygve Madsen: Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
- Finn Mortensen: Sonatina for Solo Clarinet
- Camille Saint-Saëns: Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, R. 147 Op. 167
- Robert Schumann: Fantasiestücke for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 73
- Igor Stravinsky: Pieces for Clarinet, K033
Review by John Broggio - November 3, 2010
A rather average recital, recorded a little too closely for most.
Opening with Schumann's Fantasiestucke Op. 73, there is little to recommend this beyond the notes being played in the correct order and at the right time - at no time does the pulse quicken in the way Schumann must have intended but the frustration at the very pedestrian accounts might just raise ones blood pressure! It is not in anywhere the same league as that on Schumann: Violin Sonatas - Schwarzberg, Leschenko or Franck, Debussy, Schumann - Schwarzberg, Argerich. The following Fantasy for Solo Clarinet by Johan Kvandal is played well by Frederik Fors but the piece itself is not particularly interesting (although it is easy on the ear by most comparison with most modern works).
Three of Grieg's most popular Lyric Pieces (Papillons, Erotikon, To Spring) are then presented in an arrangement for clarinet and piano - it would be impossible to pretend that these arrangements are particularly skilful or that the performances were in any favourable way comparable to accounts from pianists such as Gilels or Andsnes. Haaland's Black Bird is an interesting work with use of tape to allow the distance effects to work with just a solo player - the birdsong presented though is definitely not that of a black bird (a cuckoo is the most easily identifiable animal)!
Madsen's 3 movement sonata is classically constructed and is quite easy to listen to although the melodic material does not rival that of, say, Mendelssohn. The Stravinsky is already well served by Virtuoso - Müller / Hefti and this account is every bit as good. The Saint-Seans sonata is a lovely autumnal work and it is puzzling why it is not better known; the lugubrious Lento is particularly effective. Fors and Bjelland play with a manner that is entirely at the service of the music. The closing Sonatina by Mortensen is an interesting diversion but not highly memorable - Fors does his best.
The sound is characteristically full of life in the way 2L have come to present most of their output - part of this comes from miking closely and whilst it pays dividends for the Stravinsky and Haaland, it is a bit wearing for the whole programme.
Not recommended unless one or more pieces *has* to join your collection.
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