Various Artists

Clarinete Evocador

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Don't let the Spanish titles fool you. Clarinete Evocador is a collection of clarinet-led classical pieces, augmented with new age-y samples of falling water, chirping birds, and assorted other nature-derived relaxation sounds. It's not quite a relaxation album, but nor is it straight-ahead new age. At the same time, it's not really proficient enough to be considered a serious classical release. Instead, Clarinete Evocador drifts somewhere between these genres, like a used piece of fabric softener floating in the breeze of a rainy summer day. Pieces from Brahms, Schumann, Ravel, Chopin, and Debussy appear on the set list; each is performed with appropriate reverence, if you look past the often cheesy nature noises that aren't so much relaxing as they are laughable. It's not their addition to the memorable melodies of these big-name composers; rather, it's the fact that adding rain on windowpanes, rumbling thunder, or the twitter of morning doves to a track in an effort to make it relaxing or evocative is just so clichéd. Clarinete Evocador does contain some nice solo performances, particularly on Massenet's dour Meditation de Thaïs. But as it flutters from classical to new age and back again, it loses much of the resonance of its better performances.

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