Review of LNT135: A Place in the Sky
A remarkable disc by the New Music clarinettist, consistently inventive across nine varied new pieces — and brilliant in playing and interpretation. James Clarke’s Entfernung is for B flat and bass clarinets and tape. The tape material of microtonally-tuned Finnish zither, and clarinet sounds progressively ‘denatured’ through multiphonics and other techniques, create a dissonance of exoticisms that’s totally compelling. The title track, by Christopher Fox, from a longer work for ensemble and electronically-generated tones, is written in sixth-tones, for Sparling’s A clarinet, and matches electronic and instrumental purity. Also using microtones, Dorothy Ker’s […and…1] — surely a prizewinner among artistic non-titles — was recorded using a ‘layering’ of spaces that diffracts the performer’s identity. Paul Rhys’s Dialogue I, II sets the soloist against a quarter-speed birdsong recording of the blackcap — as he writes, like a “sculpture in a beautiful garden, balancing human invention with the virtuosity of nature”, in a thoroughly engaging way. In Tim Parkinson’s Clarinet And Words, the words are so halting and robotic that they’re not immediately recognisable as Macbeth’s “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” soliloquy; Bryn Harrison’s Open 2 is a haunting exploration of stasis and introspection. A superb disc.