Clarinet Trio

October 1, '98

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At first blush, the prospect of three clarinets performing abstract, avant-garde improvisations for nearly an hour may seem daunting. Somehow, though, Gebhard Ullmann, Jurgen Kupke, & Theo Nabicht pull it off, creating nineteen miniatures of alluring sounds. All are unrecognizable tunes, with the wonderful "Tea for Two" and Nino Rota's "Pariami di me" the exceptions. Ullmann succeeds by writing for the unique sonorities of the instrument. Actually, two of the three (including Ullmann) play bass clarinets, adding additional colors. Even with plenty of melody, there is plenty of scratch and sniff to satisfy the most adventuresome. Ultimately, it is the stunning arranging that wins the day, the tunes reaching back decades sometimes for inspiration. The lines are often jagged, the harmonies outrageous, and the soloing superb.

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