The highly gifted Swiss clarinettist Reto Bieri makes his ECM New Series debut with ‘Contrechant’, a brilliant recital for solo clarinet that looks at new developmental possibilities in the ‘language’ of the instrument in modern music. A wonderful panorama of contemporary music for clarinet by giants of new music – Elliott Carter (the grand old man of US music who celebrates his 103rd birthday in December), Heinz Holliger, Luciano Berio, Peter Eötvös and Salvatore Sciarrino plus an intriguing work by much discussed young Hungarian composer Gergely Vajda.
Beautifully recorded with producer Manfred Eicher in St Gerold, the works chosen by Bieri for this enterprising programme are Berio’s Lied (1983); Holliger’s Contrechant (2007) and Rechant from the following year; Let me die before I wake (1982) by Salvatore Sciarrino; Carter’s Gra (1993); Eötvös’s Derwischtanz (1993/2001); and Lightshadow-trembling, a piece composed by Gergely Vajda in1993. Bieri worked closely with composers Carter, Holliger, Eötvös, Sciarrino and Vajda toward the optimum realization of the pieces heard here. Collectively the works address the new language of the contemporary clarinet.
Reto Bieri was born in Zug, Switzerland, in 1975, and grew up listening to Swiss folk music before discovering the world of classical music. He studied the clarinet in Basel and at the Juilliard School in New York, and his musical development was also strongly influenced by chamber music lessons from composer György Kurtag and pianist Krystian Zimerman.
In 2001 Bieri won the UNESCO-sponsored International Rostrum for Young Performers award, and since then has been invited to play all over the world, as soloist and chamber musician. His musical partners include violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and cellist Sol Gabetta, and he’s performed chamber music with Gidon Kremer, Heinz Holliger, Dénes Varjon, Gautier Capuçon, Raphael Oleg, Carolin Widmann, Gérard Wyss, the Carmina, Casals and Petersen Quartets, and the Altenberg Trio. He has also collaborated with the Rosamunde Quartet, and projects in preparation include performances of Tigran Mansurian’s Double Concerto for Clarinet and Violoncello with ex-Rosamunde cellist Anja Lechner.
Luciano Berio: Lied
Heinz Holliger: Contrechant
Salvatore Sciarrino: Let me die before I wake
Let me die before I wake
Elliott Carter: Gra
Heinz Holliger: Rechant
Peter Eötvös: Derwischtanz
Gergely Vajda: Lightshadow-trembling
27th October 2011
“this collection of contemporary solo works reveals [Bieri] as a wonderfully controlled and subtle interpreter...The nearest to repertory works are Luciano Berio's beautifully shaped and coloured Lied, from 1983, and Elliott Carter's Gra, a gruff 80th-birthday tribute to Witold Lutosławski; Peter Eötvös's Derwischtanz and Gergely Vajda's Lightshadow Trembling”
“Holliger's Contrechamps, in particular, is a veritable compendium of clarinet effects, including several uncanny moments when the clarinet seems to play parallel chords...Reto Bieri makes all these sounds seem musical, even the harshest 'multiphonics' - though the famous soft-grained sound achieved by ECM's engineers surely helps in that regard.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.