One strong point of ClarinetFest 2014 has been the array of excellent performances on bass clarinet, often showcasing new music for the instrument. This Lagniappe Recital was a shining example of that. Barbara Haney and Jason Alder performed Daniel Dorff’s In a Deep Funk: Dance Set for Solo Bass Clarinet and Stockhausen’s Solo für melodieinstrument und Rückkopplung, respectively.
In a Deep Funk featured four movements with a play on popular dance crazes from the middle of the last century, called Hustle Misterioso, Twist Variations, Bear Hug, and Funk Scherzo. The music was sometimes raucous and sometimes singing, but always had an underlying groove. Barbara Haney played very convincingly, executing the large leaps and use of the full range of the bass clarinet with great ease.
Solo für melodieinstrument und Rückkopplung (Solo for a melody instrument and feedback), although composed in 1966, was still new to most people in the audience. In the day and age when Stockhausen finished this work, it required at least four people in addition to the soloist to create the feedback that is key to the piece. Through countless hours of computer work, Jason Alder created a system in which to perform the piece by himself. Alder surrounded himself with a laptop, his phone, which provided an audio and visual metronome to cue him for the beginning of each musical cycle, and a microphone attached to his bass clarinet. The third time was a charm; technical difficulties required Alder to start the piece a few times before everything worked properly, but once it got off the ground, Solo took over the recital hall. At times, the feedback from the bass clarinet sounded like a string section. Other times, feedback that was a more exact copy of Alder’s original sound accompanied him to form unusual chords and polyphonies. Before beginning to play, Alder pointed out that there will never be two identical performances of Stockhausen’s Solo since he provides several musical sets which are to be paired together through the feedback in any combination of the soloist’s choosing. We have Alder to thank for the ability now to perform this very interesting work as a true solo, as well as for bringing it to our attention.
–Notes by Alaina Pritz
Alaina Pritz is a recent graduate from The University of Maryland and currently plays with The United State Air Force Band – Band of the Golden West.