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Dante Boon / Jürg Frey: Clarinet (& Piano)

John Eyles By

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Without doing an actual count of how many Another Timbre releases feature members of the Wandelweiser group, it is safe to say that they crop up regularly on the label both as composers and performers, with such names as Jürg Frey, Radu Malfatti, Michael Pisaro, Johnny Chang and Eva Maria Houben peppering the label's credits—not just on the monumental 2013 six-disc-set Wandelweiser und so weiter but across the catalogue. So, it comes as no surprise to find Another Timbre entering its second century of releases with this album of three compositions by the Dutch Wandelweiser member Dante Boon, played by Frey on clarinet with Boon himself on piano for two of them.

The three pieces range in length from just over eight minutes to almost twenty-five, together totalling fifty-and-a-half minutes. The longest of the three, the duet "O'Hare," opens the album and straight away it is distinctively by a Wandelweiser composer; its stately, unhurried pace exudes calm and control so that the listener has time to savour every nuance without feeling rushed. The music is ideally suited to Frey, whose phrasing and timing make it feel open and spacious while avoiding the prolonged periods of silence that some listeners complain about with Wandelweiser.

Boon's compositions are not prescriptive but allow players to try out different tempi or ways of playing together. He has rightly praised Frey's note placement and the way his experience and instincts combine so that he paces a piece just right. For "O'Hare," Boon thought it would last thirty to thirty-five minutes; Frey played it in twenty-five, and no-one could argue that it sounds rushed. The clarinet and piano work well together, with no obvious tension between the two.

The shorter piece, "3x," contains three different registers across three staves and gives the player freedom of choice to move between them. Playing alone, Frey uses the structure to play melodically, always maintaining his exceptional good taste and calm. (check out the YouTube clip below for an excerpt.) With "Wolken / veld," Boon returns on piano for another extended piece, one on which both excel again, with Frey getting the lion's share of the attention while Boon's piano adds occasional supporting interjections. As with the other two tracks, the defining features of the piece—and of the album, too—are its beauty and calm control. Altogether, this album is exquisite throughout, without a single wasted note or gesture to be heard.


Track Listing: O’Hare; 3x ; Wolken/veld.

Personnel: Jürg Frey: clarinet; Dante Boon: piano (1, 3).

Title: Clarinet (& Piano) | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Another Timbre

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