Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Video Fun: Rossini, Verdi and beyond

Here is the redoubtable Juan Diego Florez singing the Cujus Animam from Rossini's Stabat Mater.

In the nineteenth century, as soon as someone wrote a good tune there were composers falling over each other to write sets of virtuoso intrumental variations on it. The one who bagsied this particular Rossini tune on behalf of clarinettists was Domenico Liverani, and in the same way that only a few guitarists have the courage to stand on a stage and play Eddie van Halen solos (Dweezil Zappa of course being one such) , only a handful of clarinettists ever dare to attempt Liverani's flashy bundle of fun. Here is Corrado Giuffredi doing so:

In a similar vein, the composer Donato Lovreglio snatched up a whole bunch of operatic arias and gave the same sort of treatment (Google 'Lovreglio' and 'Youtube' for a selection). Here is his most famous offering, in which a number of tunes from Verdi's La Traviata are transformed into an Everest of clarinet showmanship (though to be fair to Lovreglio his pieces make more varied demands on their players than Liverani's chain-gun salvos of black notes). Back in her music college days my wife used to include this one in her programmes sometimes. She never made it sound easy (that would rather miss the point of the thing) but she made it sound just ordinarily difficult, which it really is not. Judge for yourselves (not sure who the player is, but it's not Hilary - and actually I've heard her give several better performances than this one):

Where all the versions I've watched online so far seem to fall down is in the playing of the actual tunes themselves before they get overlaid by the Eddie van Halen stuff. (They all seem to be more about playing Lovreglio than Verdi, as it were.) This guy isn't too bad, though I found his swaying around put me off a bit a first, and his breath control wavers at around the nine minute mark.

If you want to hear both these pieces being utterly nailed, there are great recordings by Colin Bradbury (ours are on good old vinyl but they're available on CD now) who latterly specialised in this kind of repertoire.


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