Projects

Memories of Places Past

CD Project
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Louis Spohr – Sechs deutche Lieder
Ralph Vaughan-Williams – Three Vocalises
Colin Eatock – Ashes of Soldiers
Frank Horvat – Memories of a Place Past
Franz Schubert – Der Hirt auf dem Felsen

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Kripa Nageshwar – Soprano
Michael Westwood – Clarinet
Ruta Vaivade – Piano

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Recording in September 2017

 

Benny Goodman Project

Five concerts for clarinet and orchestra
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Benny Goodman is one of the most significant figures in the world of twentieth century music, not only as the King of Swing but as a performer and commissioner of music in the classical tradition as well. Composers of the quality no less than Bela Bartok, Paul Hindemith, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Darius Milhaud, and Malcolm Arnold all wrote music for and dedicated to the great Benny Goodman. Most of the works of these greats of the twentieth century were premiered and first recorded by Benny Goodman.

2016 marks the thirtieth anniversary of Benny Goodman’s death. In commemoration of this year, of his life and influence in classical music, and of the lasting mark on the clarinet repertoire which Goodman left, Michael Westwood is embarking on a project to perform each of the five concertos which are dedicated to him. The concertos of Copland, Hindemith, Milhaud, and the two of Arnold are each great pieces in their own rights and would not have been written had it not been for the work of Benny Goodman.

This project begins now in the middle of 2016 and will continue for the next three years. The hope is to breathe new life into some of these lesser performed works while enjoying the eternally popular and great Copland Clarinet Concerto.

 

The Concertos
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1. Aaron Copland, Concerto for Clarinet, Strings and Harp (1949)
Commissioned by Benny Goodman in 1947 and premiered by Goodman with Fritz Reiner conducting in 1950, the Copland concerto is on of a handful of concertos which are firmly in the standard repertoire. With its elegiac first movement, jazz riff-like cadenza in the middle, and energetic unmistakably Copland-esque finale, it is a tremendous work and an audience and musician favourite.
2. Darius Milhaud, Concerto for clarinet and orchestra, Op. 230 (1941)
Composed in 1941 on a commission from Goodman, this piece of the prolific Milhaud is not performed often but is lyrical and deserves to be heard more often. Goodman never performed the work for unknown reasons.
3. Paul Hindemith, Concerto for clarinet and orchestra (1947)
Premiered by Benny Goodman in 1950, this work is in Hindemith’s neo-classical vein. Although there are a large number of recordings, it is not heard live often enough.
4. Malcolm Arnold, Clarinet Concerto no. 1 Op. 20 (1955)
Concerto by English legendary composer Malcolm Arnold was actually written for Frederick Thurston but championed by Goodman who gave it its American premiere in 1967.
5. Malcolm Arnold, Clarinet Concerto no. 2 Op. 115 (1974)
Malcolm Arnold commissioned the concerto two decades later. The second clarinet concerto is filled with jazz influences having been tailored to this aspect of Goodman’s playing.
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