Patrick Hanudel, writing in the November/December issue of American Record Guide, posted a highly favorable review of David Shifrin and Friends (DE 3423). While he had some very good things to say about all four of the program’s works, he wrote with particular enthusiasm about Aaron Copland’s Sextet for Clarinet, Piano and String Quartet and the program’s centerpiece, Ellen Taafe Zwilich’s Concerto for Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra.
He described the sextet as “… a keen reminder of the composer’s mastery of post-romantic tonality and his response to calls for a nationalist voice in American music.” As for the Zwilich concerto, he described it as a “… tour-de-force that juxtaposes powerful modernist dances with heartfelt romantic laments … the composer’s eloquent clarinet writing, picturesque scoring, and gripping emotional content are wholly engaging … the work is undoubtedly an important contribution to the clarinet literature.”
He went on to praise all of the performers of Chamber Music Northwest, commenting that “Shifrin and his colleagues tackle each score with all their technical and artistic resources, embracing the thorny and aggressive as well as shaping moments of breathtaking beauty and sadness.” He concluded that Shifrin’s “… musicianship and leadership are always on display, and his rendition of the Zwilich should ensure its place in every clarinetist’s library.”
So, all you clarinetists out there, TAKE HEED … and tell all of your friends and fans, too! Any aficionado of modern chamber music should enjoy it no end, as well.