It took several years for this recording to make it to the United States after having been released to critical acclaim in Europe. Sabine Meyer is the First Lady of German clarinetists. Her brother, Wolfgang, though less well known across the pond, is no slouch either. The brother and sister team joins der Bramberger Symphoniker and the Bramberg Symphony and Big Band under the direction of Ingo Metzmacher to pay musical respects to Benny Goodman.
Homage to Benny Goodman is half classical and half big band, thereby blurring the distinction between the two. Goodman was associated with several classical clarinet compositions, among them Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and Quintet (neither presented here, but both available), Malcolm Arnold's two clarinet concertos (the latter being commissioned by Goodman), and Aaron Copland's commissioned clarinet concerto. Goodman also performed clarinet pieces written for other jazz musicians, namely Woody Herman. Goodman was closely associated with Stavinsky's Ebony Concerto and Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs.
The disc is divided equally between the two clarinetists, with the pair sharing the billing on several of the big band arrangements. Ms. Meyer drives with confidence through the Copland and Stravinsky concertos, while her talented brother capable steers the Arnold concerto and Bernstein selection. Their playing is crisp and mostly interchangeable. The true fun of this recording is in the big band arrangements, particularly "Sing, Sing, Sing," "Tiger Rag," and "Goodbye." The band is crystalline perfect and complete transparent, very well prepared by Till Weser. Better late than never, this disc is a gem to be enjoyed by all fans of the difficult mistress.