The bass clarinet history is relatively more recent than the one of soprano clarinet. We have the first sources of the first prototypes, such as the Glicibarifono, at around the end of 18th century, when Mozart had already composed his wonderful Clarinet Concerto K. 622 for basset clarinet, a sort of soprano clarinet going down to the lower register. This need to go lower and lower in the clarinet family produced the birth of the bass clarinet. I had the first approach with the clarinet at the local band of my village and imediately I was struck by its velveting and sweet sound. Can you imagine when I tested for the first time the bass clarinet ! I had a feeling of a deep vibration with very low notes and very high notes which can change so often color to the sound. Wonderful !
After so many years I can say to have a weakness and a sort of brotherly love for this instrument, representing also my job in the orchestra. So many composers (Mahler, Shostakovich, Strawinsky, Strauss, Wagner, Liszt, Verdi, Caikovsky and others) have dedicated wonderful solo parts to it, and so far I have been lucky enough to perform them with different conductors. The project of this Cd comes from a long time ago, attending the composers who with their personal style and their language could be able to spot the cantabile technical characteristics and variety of timbrical effects in the different registers of my instrument.
I enjoyed to feature the different characters and moods that the bass clarinet can reproduce so well, exactly like it happens in the orchestral repertoire such as Sancho Panza in the Don Chisciotte of Strauss, the melancholie of the Symphony No. 7 of Shostakovich, the pain of Wagner, the provocation of The Rite of Spring of Strawinsky. The same I can say it can happen in the protatagonists of this Cd : tango style of Manola, meditative and moody, the grandfather telling a story in the piece Greensleeves, the old tenor singing Romanza with all the lyrical and expressive momentum, typical of the italian tradition.
I believe that the bass clarinet should be exactly this! The skill of becoming actor following the script, in order to act using different languages, jazz style in the piece Over the clouds or contemporary in the piece Perturbazioni.
The common denominator of these pieces for bass clarinet is that they have been written by italian composers, which I would like to thank. Some notes about their pieces will help to understand them better.
It is a journey using much of fantasy to describe Over the clouds, a trip structured in the different movements: Thinking, Dreaming and Dancing. The first piece begins with a meditative moment and from here the bass clarinet is developing rythmical and melodical combinations conveying to different moods, all full of energy.
At this point the listener is symbolically pushed to be on the clouds. Dreaming is painted by new colors of amazements: the description of a curtain of clouds below us which, flying with the glimpse downward, recall us a new dimension.
It is the rarefied music accompaying the visual suggestions. Dancing is the concretization of this new dimension with an explosion of joy through the dance.
Bonzelgast is a tale of witches and ogres, the witch with big arms and bursty good looking body. The piece tells the mating between her and the ogre Humpand. The music expresses effects and bursts and could be compared to the cartoon music.
Three different musical moments highlight the expressive peculiarities of the bass clarinet through the three movements of Cadenza, Preludio e Pezzo Appassionato of Danilo Zaffaroni. This is increasingly clear in these movements which give the name of this composition. The principal theme, vaguely expressed in the first two movements, appears in the third section generating a close dialogue between the soloist and the string quintet. This piece has been adapted for bass clarinet and string quintet by the composer.
The atmosphere of Trio Tango has lyrical, passionate and melancholy outbursts based on two themes a bit contrasting but both very melodical. They are developed and re-elaborated in the central section, with a relentess rhythm of the piano. The end of the composition has two solo parts of the bass clarinet and accordeon , featuring the different colors made by the two instruments together.
The beauty, the charm and mystery (who had composed the famous Anglo -Saxon melody Greesleeves? Maybe Henry VIII ?) had inspired to write not real variations but changing musical situations related to harmony and rhythm, similar to the theme and developing each one according to a single course. The composition Perturbazioni has been born as a piece for bassoon and electronics but then it has been re-arranged on invitation of Fausto Saredi for bass clarinet and guitar. Maybe the listener is imaging masses of humid and dry air clashing, just like the Azores anticyclone and Gulf corrents. It could represent musical thoughts on the more frequent climatic upheavals, but in reality the title Perturbazioni refers more prosaically to the fact that when the composer was writing this piece there were disturbing noises in the flat above where he was living and this affected a lot the mood of the composer. The piece is a conversation between two people. One person is sometimes stopping walking, listening to the other person. Promenade is a walk in the paths of Val Veddasca (a valley above Lago Maggiore, north of Italy , close to Swizerland). One walks enjoying the view… but the one goes down quickly from the hill and one begins to walk again. Just like two different characters walking together, a clarinet and …….a bass clarinet.
Liner notes by Fausto Saredi
Translation by Luigi Magistrelli
Fausto Saredi is serving the position of Bass Clarinet at “La Verdi” Symphonic Orchestra of Milan since 2006. He played as extra also at La Scala Phiharmonic, Zurich Tonhalle and Opernhaus, Teatro Comunale of Bologna, O.R.T. of Tuscany, O.S.I. of Italian Swiss and for five years he played as Bass Clarinet at the National Radio Orchestra. He played under well-known conductors such as R. Chailly, S. Bichkov, W. Jurowski, C. Scimone, J. P. Saraste, C. P. Floor. He often performed the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, Rolla Basset Horn Concerto, Mozart,Weber and Brahms Clarinet Quintets and attended some important Festivals such as Biennale of Venice, Le Settimane Chigiane di Siena, Festival Pucciniano, Festival dei Due mondi di Spoleto, Rostropovich Festival of Baku (Azerbaijan) and BBC Proms of London. He recorded for Decca, Stradivarius, RaiTrade, Deutsche Grammophone. The label Gallo of Losanne published two Cds with chamber music of R. Stark and W. A. Mozart. Since september 2016 he is professor at the Conservatory of the italian Swiss in Lugano.
Angelo Sormani: italian composer and conductor, he graduated in trumpet, in composition of electronic music, in experimental composition, in choral singing and choir and band instrumentation at the Conservatory “G.Verdi” in Milan where he later got his degree with honors Level II in the direction, composition and band instrumentation. He attended specialization courses in analysis, composition and band instrumentation at the European Institute Superior Band of Trento.
Parallel to his musical studies he graduated in “Computer Science” at the University of Milan.
E teaches Laboratory of Technology and Physics at the IIS “Da Vinci-Ripamonti” in Como and Theory and Harmony of Music in the School of Civic Philharmonic Lugano.
He is the conductor of many bands: A. Manzoni “Civic Band” of Lecco, “Città di Mariano Comense ” and “Santa Cecilia”of Costa Masnaga. He is founder and artistic director of Insubria Wind Orchestra He works at the Italy-US International Music-Project, involving Italian Conservatories and American Universities.
He works as arranger, conductor and composer with “Horns of La Scala” in Milan (http://www.icornidellascala.com/scala/it/ ), which he has made concerts in prestigious theaters and Italian festivals (including the Teatro Regio in Parma, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Festival “Sounds of the Dolomites”).
He obtained significant awards in international composition competitions: “L. Russolo ” in Varese,”City of Pavia “,”V. Bucchi” in Rome; Corciano Composition Competition for Original Band (awarded in three editions),” Peter Pernice “of Syracuse (awarded in two editions),” Pellegrino Caso “of Vietri sul mare, “ La prime Lus” in Bertiolo, Anbima of Udine, “Romualdo Marenco in Novi Ligure (awarded in two editions), Sinnai (awarded in two editions), Mugnano.
He receives commissions for original compositions (including the International Festival of Military Bands of Modena, the Municipal Musique Strasbourg Illkirch-Graffenstaden) and is invited in juries of competitions for composition and execution or as a lecturer in band courses and stages.
His compositions are recorded on CDs by important Italian Wind Orchestras: Fiatinsieme (Torino), “A. Corelli” Messina Conservatory, “Città di Ferentino” Wind Orchestra, “Liceo Rosmini” Wind Orchestra, Calliope Wind Chamber Orchestra.
His compositions are published by Scomegna, Animando, BAM Beyond Any Music and Da Vinci Publishing.