Friday, December 14, 2012

Gramophone: 'Clarinettist Eley addresses the repertoire’s race divide'

[But Not Forgotten: Music by African-American Composers for Clarinet & Piano; Marcus Eley, clarinet; Lucerne DeSa, piano; Sono Luminus DSL-92156 (2012)]

Marcus Eley alerts us to this review in the December 2012 issue of the prominent classical music publication Gramophone:

As glaring as the plight of the woman conductor in modern American concert life is that of the African-American composer whose music the classical music establishment almost never plays. On this recital, clarinettist Marcus Eley celebrates African-American composers in order that “their unique voices be heard and not forgotten”.

The music thrives with life, whether in the formal abstract lines of Dorothy Rudd Moore or Alvin Batiste, or more free-form escapades. There are lyrics with names of indescribable sweet beauty: a Basque Folk Song by Clarence Cameron White, a Pastorale from Samuel Akpabot’s Scenes from Nigeria. Quincy Hilliard’s sophisticated Coty turns into wild abandon. Todd Cochran’s Soul-Bird soars transcendent above them all, at eight minutes the longest pieces on the disc; it is well deserving of the honour.

“But Not Forgotten” also celebrates the artistry of Marcus Eley, listed on his website as “Actor, Clarinetist, Host and Arts Administrator”. Throughout, Eley applies his pure, limpid tone eloquently in music of a varied range of styles; perhaps the most personal playing comes in Joplin’s sad Weeping Willow rag, or in a lovely arrangement of Amazing Grace.

Add in Lucerene DeSa’s full-bodied, elegant playing and the gratifying natural acoustic at Endler Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa’s Western Cape Winelands, and the result is a exceptional musical experience in every way. The booklet-notes are documentary in authority and the sound is of the highest audiophile quality.
Laurence Vittes

[Samuel Ekpe Akpabot (1932-2000), William Grant Still (1895-1978) and Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917) are profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List and a Bibliography for William Grant Still by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,]

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