Assisi Concert Review in ‘Clarinet and Saxophone’

The Scottish Clarinet Quartet’s recital in the Sala delle Volte’s generous undercroft acoustic featured a new version of Judith Weir’s Sketches from a Bagpiper’s Albumthis effective arrangement by Alex South [is] a successful addition to the quartet repertoire… Alex South’s take on the Lament over the Sea on bass clarinet with the accompanying clarinets lapping at the edges really transported us to a tranquil Scottish loch.

Many Miles Away, five quotations from Sir Water Scott by the [US] composer Francine Trester… proved the real find in this enterprising young group’s programme. Here the composer found five different sound worlds from different combinations of bass clarinets and B flats which reflected Scott’s poetic images of Scotland leading the listener from the ‘Prologue’ (on the shore of a dark Scottish loch) to melting ‘Frozen’ statues of snow to another ‘Nocturne’ to ‘Enigma’-tic Cats stealthy feline frolics and no flying fur, to a paean to Edinburgh’s steep slopes ‘piled deep and massy’ – a rousing hymn to ‘Mine Own Romantic Town’. In this well prepared and well crafted work full of character and poetry, the Scottish Clarinet Quartet brilliantly brought to life each movement in texture and detail.

In Becky Milne’s own Waulking Bass from 2004, a highland lament crooned over atmospheric ostinati noodling on high bass clarinets – a fun finale never far away from a Highland fling or reel.

Nicholas Cox, in Clarinet & Saxophone, Autumn 2013

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