MICHAEL FINNISSY (b.1946): Clarinet Sonata for Clarinet, Piano and Percussion, L’Union Libre for Clarinet, Piano and Percussion, Mike, Brian, Marily and the Cats for Clarinet, Piano and Percussion, WAM for Violin and Percussion, Giant Abstract Samba for Wind Ensemble.
Catalogue Number: 01R063
Label: New Focus Recordings
Description: Finnissy has returned repeatedly to the clarinet in his chamber music, of which this disc provides a pleasing cross-section, illustrating several important methods of the composer's. In the Clarinet Sonata of 2006, Finnissy constructs the piano part out of Beethoven's Op.110, reversing and re-assembling measures, while the clarinet provides a freely running commentary above. L'Union Libre is one of the composer's works in 'kit' form, without an overall score, in which the instrumental parts are independent of one another. The six-page group portrait incorporates the pre-recorded meowing of the cats as a 'found object'; the order of the piano pages is specified, while that of the clarinet's is not, after the first, and the piano part contains allusions to Gounod - another 'found object' which stand out from the fragmented texture. WAM is a much earlier piece - 1990-91 - and is the only work here that conforms to the 'new complexity' style with which Finnissy was associated much more formerly than recently. The piece is a piano solo constructed from patterns of pitches and rhythms derived from Mozart, with two obbligato instruments moving about elsewhere on stage (unspecified; clarinet and violin here) playing somewhat more recognisable material borrowed from Mozart. Giant Abstract Samba is a great joke; beginning with the raucous Brazilian dance, whose rhythm persists even as the material becomes more abstract, dsconnected, dissonant and static, the result is like listening to Le bœuf sur le toit after dropping some particularly bad acid. Michael Norsworthy (clarinets, percussion), Michael Finnissy (piano, percussion), William Fedkenheuer (violin), NEC Wind Ensemble; Charles Peltz.