Clarinet Trio Ballads and Related Objects

Clarinet Trio Ballads and Related Objects
You might be forgiven for not expecting a trio of clarinetists to tear things up. But The Clarinet Trio — Gebhard Ullmann, Jürgen Kupke and Michael Thieke — does just that, and then some. Ballads and Related Objects has chamber music precision, kaleidoscopic arrangements, hot blowing, and dynamic overall pacing of ideas and intensities. As well as being adventurous, accessible, abstract and mysterious, their music grooves too, as on the bluesy "Almost Twenty-Eight.” Ullmann’s tunes deliver plenty to get your neurons firing and foot tapping with multi-metric pieces like "Seven 9-8” and "29 Shoes.” Mosaic textures shift, suspensions and sonority segue appear and disappear in two pensive variations on "Déjà Vu.” While most of the pieces are well-rehearsed, uncompromisingly exacting compositions — the trio has been exploring the sound resources of the clarinet, alto clarinet, bass clarinet instrumentation since 1998 — they also do some thoughtful free improvising on "Collective 9, 11 and 12” that benefits greatly from their intense awareness of each other’s timbre and playing. A highlight is the other-worldly "Variations on a Theme by Claude Debussy,” with deliriously delicate chords, sometimes bent micro-tonally or overlaid with traceries of overtone entries and exits, gorgeous ensemble playing and touches of klezmer melisma. Highly recommended. (Leo)