Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Adios Nonino on the Piccolo Clarinet

Most people associate the word "clarinet" with the black instrument found in the hands of Benny Goodman or Paquito D’Rivera. It is actually the term for a family of a dozen or more instruments which together cover almost all of the notes on the piano keyboard. Today's video features a member of that family, an E flat clarinet sometimes called a sopranino clarinet or a piccolo clarinet. It sounds a fourth higher that the standard Goodman/D'Rivera B flat clarinet. It is not uncommon to find them in orchestral music but it is unusual to find one in a chamber music setting as in today's video. In the hands of a good clarinetist, the E flat clarinet brings a bright sound to the music; in the hands of a bad clarinetist, it is just screechy. Fortunately the musician in today's video, Javier Llopis, is an excellent clarinetist.

Llopis performs Adios Nonino in today's video accompanied by Natacha González on the piano. His opening cadenza is facile, musical and the phrasing is wonderful - a genuine musical treat. Ms. González is an able accompanist but the clarinet is the show here. Some of the success of the performance must be attributed to the arrangement which was originally created by the Japanese composer (and bandoneónist), Têhô, for alto saxophone and piano. It was adapted by Mr. Llopis for E flat clarinet. From his website, it appears that Têhô has arranged many Piazzolla works but they seem to be not readily available outside of Japan. If this is a typical example of his work, more western musicians should seek out his arrangements.

If you enjoy listening to virtuoso clarinet music, I encourage you to visit Mr. Llopis YouTube channel. You will find an interesting variety of music there.

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