Scenes From Home: Music for clarinet and piano by Colorado composers
Kellan Toohey, a gifted young clarinettist from Colorado, has bestowed a lovely gift upon composers ‘who are either from Colorado, or who have lived here for some part of their life’. The well-deserved fruit of Toohey’s Kickstarter campaign is music inspired by the beauties of the state’s natural landscape; it is unfailingly mellow, engages the listener with genuine affection and a distinctive voice, and he knows how to make a clarinet sound very fine.
Emily Rutherford’s Three Poems are full of meandering, gentle, wistful Satie-esque surprises; the last takes particular delight in delicious curlicues. Conor Abbott Brown’s Early Winter Spires starts hypnotically in a klezmer vein, then scales towering graphite pinnacles with musical equipment, the composer notes, that includes Debussy and the Icelandic rock group Sigur Rós. It is the second movement from the concerto that Brown wrote in 2010 for David Krakauer and a wonderful 4'31" tour de force.
David Mullikin, who wrote an oboe concerto that Colorado Symphony principal Peter Cooper recorded with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, contributes a playful, charming Suite antique that is most effective when it’s being blithely neo-Mozartian. Nature returns magnificently with Andrew Halladay’s Five Scenes from our Aspen Grove, exploring America’s innocent musical soul: open, curious and apt to break into song at any moment. Greg Simon’s sad, lovely Two Orchids captures memories of Denver like raindrops on a lake.
Toohey infuses his beauty of tone and gradations of nuance with thrilling flights of virtuosity, with Suyeon Kim always effectively and often quite gorgeously at his side.