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Seunghee Lee & Katrine Gislinge | Full Circle

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Full Circle

by Seunghee Lee & Katrine Gislinge

“Life’s journey is never a straight arrow but a set of continuous circles. Just as we are full of anticipation before embarking on a new journey, we soon find ourselves looking forward to coming back home with more gratitude, appreciation and a deeper understanding of what was already there….” Excerpt from Full Circle program booklet.
Genre: Classical: Classical era
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Fantasiestücke, Op. 73: I. Zart und mit Ausdruck
Seunghee Lee & Katrine Gislinge
3:11 album only
2. Fantasiestücke, Op. 73: II. Lebhaft, Leicht
Seunghee Lee
3:18 album only
3. Fantasiestücke, Op. 73: III. Rasch und mit Feuer
Seunghee Lee & Katrine Gislinge
3:58 album only
4. Pièce en forme de Habanera
Seunghee Lee & Katrine Gislinge
3:05 album only
5. Executive
Seunghee Lee
5:13 album only
6. Victorian Kitchen Garden Suite: I. Prelude
Seunghee Lee
3:04 album only
7. Victorian Kitchen Garden Suite: II. Spring
Seunghee Lee
0:53 album only
8. Victorian Kitchen Garden Suite: III. Mists
Seunghee Lee
1:59 album only
9. Victorian Kitchen Garden Suite: IV. Exotica
Seunghee Lee
1:05 album only
10. Victorian Kitchen Garden Suite: V. Summer
Seunghee Lee
1:56 album only
11. Vocalise-Étude
Seunghee Lee
3:37 album only
12. Fantasy Pieces, Op. 43: I. Andantino con moto
Seunghee Lee & Katrine Gislinge
1:58 album only
13. Fantasy Pieces, Op. 43: II. Allegro vivace
Seunghee Lee & Katrine Gislinge
2:05 album only
14. Fantasy Pieces, Op. 43: III. Ballade-Moderato
Seunghee Lee
5:00 album only
15. Fantasy Pieces, Op. 43: IV. Allegro molto vivace
Seunghee Lee & Katrine Gislinge
2:57 album only
16. Romance
Seunghee Lee
4:29 album only
17. Three American Pieces: I. Early Song (1944)
Seunghee Lee
4:37 album only
18. Three American Pieces: II. Dedication (1944)
Seunghee Lee
4:41 album only
19. Three American Pieces: III. Composer's Holiday (1945)
Seunghee Lee
2:53 album only
20. Coming Home
Seunghee Lee
3:49 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Life’s journey is never a straight arrow but a set of continuous circles. Just as we are full of anticipation before embarking on a new journey, we soon find ourselves looking forward to coming back home with more gratitude, appreciation and a deeper understanding of what was already there.

While my debut album was centered around core clarinet repertoire, in the three albums that followed, I ventured out into mainstream classical music, transcribing and arranging some of my favorite classical works that were originally written for other instruments. Through this experiment, I trained myself to sing through my clarinet like an opera singer, phrase long melodies like a concert pianist and play like a virtuosic violinist. It also created opportunities to reach out to modern day composers of different styles, accumulating many new clarinet pieces and few of them are included here. Taking on different paths allowed me to stretch my imagination and collect wonderful musical ideas. Coming back full circle, I am delighted to present to you some of my favorite clarinet classics from a fresh perspective. Cheers!


Robert Schumann: Fantasy Pieces. Op. 73 (1849)
Maurice Ravel: Piece en Forme de Habanera (1907)
Michele Mangani: Executive (2007)
Paul Reade: Victorian Kitchen Garden (1987)
Olivier Messiaen: Vocalise Etude (1935)
Niels Gade: Fantasy Pieces (1864)
Bent Sorensen: Romance (2017)*
Lukas Foss: Three American Pieces (World Premiere Recording on Clarinet) (written 1944, edited by Seunghee Lee 2017)*
Augusta Gross: Coming Home (2016)*

* World-Premiere Recordings

Program Notes:
Seunghee Lee is a soloist whose technique is superlative and taste is distinctive. Those who listen to her playing can revel in the most sumptuous of clarinet sounds, matched by sleek virtuosity and rhythmic elan. Lee’s latest recording, Full Circle, mixes Romantic pieces and contemporary fare for clarinet, including three world premieres (one a transcription she has made for Carl Fischer of Lukas Foss’s Three American Pieces).

Composed in 1849, Robert Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces (Phantasiestücke) are relatively late works in his catalog. In addition to the clarinet and piano version, they also exist in transcriptions for violin and piano and cello and piano. Cast in three movements, each between 3-4 minutes long, they embody the characterful instrumental writing and spontaneity intrinsic to Schuman’s mature style. The first flows in overlapping waves of arpeggios, with imitative gestures between the clarinet and piano broken up by syncopated accents. The second is more still buoyant in character, featuring rapid exchanges of triplets between the two parts and frequent changes of phrasing. The third is a robust conclusion, with a strongly articulate major-key theme in the outer sections offset by a pensive set of minor-key variations in its middle. Like many of Schumann’s earlier songs and character pieces for piano, the Fantasy Pieces are played attacca (without pause), suggesting that the listener should take them as gradations of a single whole.

Originally a vocalise etude for bass voice and piano, Maurice Ravel’s Piece en Forme de Habanera (1907) exists in a number of instrumental transcriptions. Despite being written for the lowest voice type, transposed its considerably virtuosic demands are quite adaptable to the clarinet. Indeed the piece becomes a formidable showpiece for the instrument. Ravel’s penchant for music from Spain is well known, and the demands of the solo part overlay a slow habanera that is in the spirit of a number of his works.

Early Neoclassical “Americana-style” works by Lukas Foss, Three American Pieces (1944) were originally composed for violin and piano but have been transcribed for violin and orchestra, solo piano, flute and piano, and by the renown clarinetist Richard Stolzman for clarinet and piano. Under the supervision of the late composer, Lee undertook her own transcription some years ago, working with Foss to make the clarinet writing more idiomatic. This is the world premiere recording of this arrangement of the piece.

Paul Reade’s music from the 1987 British television series The Victorian Kitchen Garden memorably featured clarinetist Emma Johnson. A suite of five pieces from the show makes for considerably charming recital fare. Some are aphoristic, not much longer than the original cues, others more fully develop the material’s musical potential.

Another vocalise transcribed for clarinet, Olivier Messiaen’s Vocalise Etude (1935) was originally composed for high voice and piano. Despite the composer still being in his twenties when he wrote it, the piece displays striking maturity and the adventurous and distinctively colorful harmonic palette that differentiates his work from contemporaries. Clarinetists primarily know Messiaen from the challenging part found in Quatuor pour la fin de temp. However, the Vocalise proves to be another suitable vehicle for the instrument. Lee imparts an eminently appropriate vocal quality to her playing that helps the piece to gel in this arrangement.

Italian composer-conductor Michele Mangini has written many works for orchestras and large ensembles, but he is also well known as a composer of music for the clarinet. Among his compositions are an often-played clarinet sonata and several other pieces for solo and multiple clarinets. Executive (2007) is a charming work that is reminiscent of the soundtracks of European cinema in its outer sections’ jauntily swaggering rhythms and employment of Romantic gestures in the central section’s melodic writing.

Niels Gade was associated with both Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn. After Gade’s musical activities in Leipzig during their lifetimes, he returned to Denmark where he became known as the most important Danish musician of the Nineteenth century. Although they are certainly a nod to Schumann’s Op. 73, there are significant differences between the Schumann and Gade pieces programmed here. Cast in four movements, Gade’s Fantasy Pieces are more adventurous -- one might say almost Brahmsian -- in their harmonies and use of asymmetrical phrasing. Indeed in these ways they presage Brahms’s late career fascination with the playing of Richard Mühlfeld and his own substantial chamber works that include the clarinet. Gade’s pieces also contain dazzling cadenzas that demonstrate the virtuosic capacities of the clarinet to good effect.

The most recent piece on Full Circle, written in 2017, is by Bent Sørensen. Romance is one of the most lyrical pieces to date in his body of work. Although the composer is known to be stylistically fluid, here is a particularly noteworthy channeling of the Nineteenth century aesthetic that we also hear on the recording in progenitors Schumann and Gade. It is only in the central section, starting with a brief passage of repeated notes traded between the clarinet and piano and moving into more varied harmonic terrain, that we get a flash of Sørensen’s more customary contemporary approach.

Augusta Gross’s Coming Home (2016) is a fitting valediction for Full Circle. It initially pits contrapuntal passages between the piano’s left hand and the clarinet. Gradually, this yields to more sumptuous harmonies. Passages in the piano’s right hand now double the clarinet and dovetail around it in counterpoint. At the piece’s conclusion, the left hand instead doubles the clarinet’s melody two octaves below it, reasserting its role in the piece. This provides an emphatic close to an hour of varied, stirring, and exquisite music.

Christian Carey is a composer, performer, and music scholar. He edits the contemporary music website Sequenza 21 (website: www.christianbcarey.com)



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