Paul Jeanjean: Clarinet Chamber Music


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    Since the time of Mozart, the solo repertoire of the Clarinet has been nourished by two parallel streams of works: first, those incomparable masterworks given us by the immortal genius of Mozart, Brahms, Weber, Mendelssohn, Poulenc, Saint-Saen, Copland and many others. Beside these there runs a parallel stream of compositions written by the greatest clarinet virtuosos of each age. In this second group none has contributed a more brilliant or expressive body of work than the Provençal genius Paul Jeanjean, many of whose exquisite works for Clarinet and piano are included in these compact disks. Born in Montpellier in 1874, Jeanjean began his studies with Noël Caisso in that city before progressing to Paris where he was awarded the premiere prix in Clarinet in1894 as a pupil of Cyril Rose. He then performed at least two years of compulsory military service as Solo Clarinetist of the elite band of the Garde Republicaine but also seems to have performed on occasion at the Opera Garnier, probably as a substitute. During these years Jeanjean created – and likely performed – his own solo version of Variations on The Carnival of Venice, quoting the theme from that opera’s aria “O Momma, Momma cara” first employed in the 1847 Clarinet variations by Ernesto Cavallini, distinguished solo clarinetist in the orchestra of Milan’s La Scala. Jeanjean’s own virtuosic variations were published in 1900-1904 in successive versions for clarinet with piano, organ (!) and Harmonie (concert band). This last was arranged by C. Fournier, Chef de Musique de l’Ecole d’artillerie du 6eme Corps d’Armée. By the time the Variations were first released two other works by Jeanjean for Clarinet and Piano had been published by Lalorde in Paris. The Hymne Nuptial and Romance sans Paroles, both published in 1898, are examples of romantic café music popular in both Paris and Monte Carlo. Whether Jeanjean was still in Paris or had already assumed his lifelong position as Director of the Concerts Classiques for the Casino in Monte Carlo is unknown. Wherever he was living in 1898. one is tempted to speculate that these early solo works might well have been composed for Jeanjean’s own matrimonial use.
    Details remain incomplete about Jeanjean’s nearly thirty years he served as Director in Monte Carlo. We know that he was an active and highly respected musician and seems rarely have left Monte Carlo to perform elsewhere. Newspaper accounts note his work as Conductor, leading the symphony orchestra a few times each season on important holidays. As solo clarinet of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo Jeanjean met and almost certainly played for Debussy, Stravinsky and Ravel. Meanwhile, Jeanjean was expected to program 3-4 chamber music concerts per week, composing a steady stream of mostly lighter pieces for Casino performance by small string ensembles with the occasional addition of single woodwinds including clarinet. In 1904 Jeanjean published the last of his early solos, the Duo de Concert for clarinet, bass clarinet and piano. This lovely duet, among the first for this combination, once again takes a highly romantic path, alternately combining the two clarinets in their rich lower and middle registers and then drawing each into its third register (very unusual and difficult for the bass clarinet!) for an understated but amorous conversation.
    Only a few of Jeanjean’s compositions appeared during the period from 1910-1920, but they are among his very best solo works. He returned to the Theme-and-Variations form in 1910 with Variations on Au Clair de la Lune. Unlike his earlier effort, here Jeanjean begins with a short introduction from which the Clarinet appears for an extended cadenza into which the notes of the theme have been cleverly imbedded. (Confusingly, a shortened version of the cadenza appears in some published versions of the piano score). Jeanjean then turns the work into a good-natured contest of – as the title page proclaims, – ‘Variations Acrobatiques et Symphoniques sur un Air Populaire” alternating between clarinet and piano. Indeed! Jeanjean asks the clarinetist for extraordinary feats of velocity, flexibility and control as scales, arpeggios, trills, and even bariolage fly to the outermost notes possible on the instrument. Mercifully, variations nos.2, 3, 5 and 7 are left to torment the pianist alone. Written very near the end of the popularity of such pieces, Jeanjean gives the venerable theme and variations a supercharged sendoff. After several years of performances at the Casino Jeanjean’s composing productivity picked up, beginning with his rarely performed Prelude and Scherzo of 1912, originally for bassoon and piano but surprisingly effective with clarinet. This was followed the same year by the masterful Deux Pieces, which were for a time published separately with piano as his First Andantino and Scherzo Brillante. Both the duration (about 16 minutes) as well as the virtuosity and expressive reach of Jeanjean’s impressionist language are pushed forward several steps here, and for the first time Jeanjean, apparently secure in his command of musical resources, added a richly impressionistic orchestral accompaniment to what is for all intents and purposes a small clarinet concerto.
    Two years later (1914) Jeanjean closed his ‘middle period’ of compositions with publication of the deeply moving Legende for clarinet and piano. The hauntingly beautiful solo part of the Legende is already known to clarinetists as the first of Jeanjean’s epic 18 études de Perfectionment released in 1928 by Andrieu Freres in France and in the USA by Alfred in 1940. Set in F minor, the work’s reflective, almost elegiac tone echoes its printed dedication to Jeanjean’s early teacher, Nöel Caisso with the epithet “les souvenirs trés reconnaissant”. While the 18 études have remained in print since their introduction, the piano accompaniment went out of print and remained lost until rediscovered in the archives of the Biblioteque Nationale in 1994. Whether any other études were ever issued with piano accompaniment remains unknown.
    Another fallow period of Jeanjean’s published works followed the Legende until 1926, when the first of no fewer than four solos and seven substantial books of études and fundamentals were issued by Andrieu Freres, Editions Musicales Evette, and Leduc. Only Jeanjean’s tragic early death in January 1929 in his native village of Beausoleil, located on the hill directly behind Monte Carlo, cut short the flow of Jeanjean’s most advanced works for the clarinet. A trio of works for clarinet and piano were published by Andrieu Freres in 1926: the Second Andantino, Arabesques, and Clair Matin. These are short, pleasing café pieces meant to be performed with a small string orchestra (the instrumental cues are still in the piano scores) in the near-daily Casino concerts for which Jeanjean was responsible. Their limited technical demands (compared to the late études) are almost certainly reflective of the very limited rehearsal time which these pieces received, intended as they were for one of the Casino’s daily recitals. Nonetheless each piece is a small gem of refinement, requiring careful consideration of mood, tempo, tone color, and the degree of rubato appropriate to each. The Second Andantino is not thematically or otherwise related to its larger predecessor in the Deux Pièces discussed above. It is a lighter, more charming piece which recalls some of Robert Schumann’s character pieces for clarinet and piano. Like the other two works in this group, the Second Andantino is composed in an A-B-A form whose mood is restful and sentimental and makes use of juxtaposed duple and triplet rhythms throughout the solo part. The Clair Matin has a similar but slightly more elaborate formal scheme wherein the ABA form of the principal melody encloses a central intermezzo in its own ABA form.
    The largest of the 1926 group is probably Jeanjean’s most-performed solo work, his Arabesques, one of the most popular ‘competition solos’ performed by pupils in the United States. It has much the same formal elements as the other two solos just described, but possesses a more flamboyant balletic character (hence the title). Cues for entrances of a (string) quartet meant to accompany the piece appear at a few points in the score, confirming its likely use in the café. Space is made for the soloist to perform a cadenza  – the only one in Jeanjean’s works- just before the end, positioned where it would normally appear in a concerto. Technically the writing is also midway between a vocally-derived café ‘song without words’ and a “French conservatory” solo, but leaning towards the former, making it perfect for a good intermediate-level or advanced player. Like all Jeanjean solos, emphasis is placed on beauty of tone, accuracy and flexibility in rhythm, attention to lyrical nuance in phrasing, and articulations which are almost almost entirely legato.
    Apart from the last of Jeanjean’s solos published in his lifetime which is discussed below, two other small solos were published by the firm of Billaudot after Jeanjean’s early death in the first week of January 1929. Each of the duo was released in 1955 with indications that it is to be played by clarinet or by several other instruments. The date of their initial composition is unknown, but they fit nicely into the corpus of the composer’s café music. The Reverie de Printemps possesses a lovely cantabile character that makes it an ideal introduction to the musical world of Jeanjean’s French Riviera. The Heureaux Temps is an excellent example of the kind of ‘dream-waltz’ that became one of café music’s most popular forms. The slightly angular melodic lines of Heureux Temps make it a more energized partner to the earlier Romance sans Paroles.
    A mention must be made of the last solo published in Jeanjean’s lifetime (1927), the aptly titled Poème étranger. This work is subtitled a l’instar d’Edgar Poë and is in several respects unique among Jeanjean’s clarinet solos. First, its eleven-minute duration made it the composer’s longest single solo work (although the Deux Pieces, which were originally intended to be played together,are slightly longer). The Poème also joins the Deux Piéces as the only works for which there is clear evidence for an accompaniment for symphony orchestra (whether any score and orchestra parts for the Poème have survived is in question). It is the only published Jeanjean work with an opus number (Op. 84). Taking into account all known Jeanjean works published or reliably known to have been performed at the Casino de Monte Carlo has revealed barely half this number. Finally, the work’s dark, delirious and demonic atmosphere itself represents a remarkable break in style from all other Jeanjean solo works. Eschewing the tightly organized harmonic vocabulary of the early impressionists that permeates the rest of Jeanjean’s works, the Poème is suffused with the whole-tone scales and extended and altered chords of the seventh, ninth, eleventh and thirteenth that fill his most advanced and difficult book of études, the 16 études Modernes (1926). Instead of the tidy song-forms of Jeanjean’s quarter-century of pleasant Café music, the Poéme is a highly sectionalized symphonic poem comprising a slow introduction, an extended whole-tone valse, an ‘Intermezzo’, (the solo part of which quotes transposed sections of the 14th of the 16 études Modernes), and a concluding Coda reprising material from the introduction. If nothing else, this last offering from one of the clarinet’s greatest composers informs us of Jeanjean’s consummate personal virtuosity. He retains his reputation as one of history’s greatest performer/composers of the Clarinet. For your pleasure and entertainment, the performers include a popular composition,Guisganderie, by not one but two Jeanjeans – Faustin and Maurice (not related to Paul). Dedicated to the memory of the great Vaudeville clarinetist Henri Guisgand, and often wrongly attributed to Paul Jeanjean on concert programs, we are invited to enjoy one more musical confection by musicians named Jeanjean.

    Dr Timothy Perry
    Professor Emeritus of Orchestras and Clarinet
    Binghamton University,State University of New York


    Italian pianist Claudia Bracco gained her degree at the age of 18 with top marks at the «Conservatorio G. Verdi» of Milan (Italy), where she also studied and took the diploma of harpsichord. After then she took a year-long classes with Emilia Fadini and Alexander Lonquich and attended master classes with Lazar Berman, Halina Czerny -Stefanska, Massimiliano Damerini, Rocco Filippini, Pavel Vernikov and Alessandro Specchi. She experienced Portogruaro postgraduating International Courses with Marian Mika and Kostantin Bogino (1992) and at the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome with Felix Ayo, where in 1999 she gained her degree in Chamber Music. Whilst pursuing graduate studies, she took part into many national and international competitions, obtaining 16 first prizes. She regularly performs, in solo recitals or as chamber musician, in prestigious halls such as Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Teatro Vascello and Auditoruim di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Sala Verdi by the Conservatorio in Milan, Teatru Manoel in La Valletta, Filharmonii in Lublin. Since 1988 she has regularly taught in master classes together with eminent musicians such as Glauco Cambursano, Patrick Gallois, Raymond Guiot, Franco Gulli, Conrad Klemm, Jean Pierre Rampal, Radovan Vladkovic. Claudia Bracco has realised many fine recordings for Talent Records, Dad, Leonarda, Bayer Records. Her discs include music by Beethoven, Caplet, Desenclos, Rudolph, Hoffmeister, Damase, Mozart, Paisiello, Schubert, Weber. Since 1994 she has been professor of Chamber Music at the Conservatory in Como.

    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.

    Magistrelli, Luigi (Clarinettist), Luigi Magistrelli was born in S.Stefano Ticino, near Milan,Italy. He studied clarinet at the Conservatory of Milan with Prof. Primo Borali and attended some master classes with D. Kloecker, K.Leister and Giuseppe Garbarino. He has performed as a soloist with the Orchestras of Pomeriggi musicali , Angelicum, Teatro Litta ,Radio of Milan,Città di Magenta ,Vivaldi Val Camonica, Haydn Chamber Orchestra, Grande Orchestra Romantica , and others. He has also performed with many chamber groups (from duo with piano to large ensembles also of contemporary music). He played as principal clarinet with Sanremo Symphony Orchestra and as extra player with the orchestras of Pomeriggi Musicali, Angelicum, Gaspare da Salò, Cantelli, Radio Orchestras of Milan and Turin, La Scala Strings , Orchester der Jahrhundert in Germany, Musica Aeterna of Perm (Russia) and Moldova Radio Symphony and many others. He has participated in some tournèes with the International Orchestra of Italy. He has won some prizes at the Competitions of Genoa and Stresa. He has performed in the principal cities of Italy and also in Swizerland, Malta, Austria, Belgium, Latvia, ex Jugoslavia, France, Spain, Africa (National Theather of Nairobi), India, Germany, Finland, Israel, Mexico, U.S.A, Canada, Russia and in duo with the pianist Sumiko Hojo in the Czech Republic, China and Japan. He has recorded 55 Cd’s of chamber music and also as a soloist, for Pongo Classica , Bayer Records , Nuova Era, Stradivarius, Arta Records (on early clarinets) , ASV, Clarinet Classics,Urania/Leonardo, Centaur Records, Talent Records, Gallo, Brilliant Classics, MDG and Orfeo with the well known clarinetist Dieter Kloecker, with the orchestra La Scala Philharmonic conducted by R. Muti for Sony Classical, with Milano Classica Orchestra for Dynamic and with Cremona Barock Orchestra for Tactus. He has recorded also two Mozart Cds for Camerata Tokyo with Prof. Karl Leister, well known solo clarinet player of Berlin Philhamonic for 34 years. He recorded for the Italian Radio and BBC of London. He edited unknown clarinet works for Eufonia, Accolade, Trio Musik, Poco Nota Verlag and Musica Rara. He is the chairman for Italy of the International Clarinet Society and performed in many clarinet congresses around the world. He held master classes and lectures in Italy, Bulgaria, Belgium (Brussels Royal Conservatory), Austria (Mozarteum Salzburg, Vienna University), Germany, China, Latvia, Spain, Czech Republic, Israel (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem Music Academy), South Korea, India, Mexico and USA (Mississippi Southern University, South California University). He has a personal clarinet collection of 240 instruments of any kind. He is Professor of Clarinet at the Conservatory of Milano.