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Clarinet colours

Wilfred Josephs and the clarinet,

Metier    MSV CD92058

Wilfred Josephs - music for clarinet. © 2002 David Lefeber, Metier Sound & Vision

Without question, the music of English-born Wilfred Josephs has not the substance accorded a few unusually gifted 20th century composers, both nationally and internationally. I knew him, and well enough to understand both his credo and the spirit that spurred him on as a musical creator. Almost endlessly I heard critics muttering disdainfully at his speed of composition. He was prolific, and that often becomes a rod with which to beat those who are assumed to neglect quality.

Josephs was a fine musician with a creative streak forcing its presence with almost endless pressure. That in itself does not demand instant attention, although once ideas are spinning, the quicker they are converted to music on paper the stronger they become in bringing about a complete birth in sound. Josephs was endlessly preoccupied with ideas, for which all composers seek and find to varying degrees. His style was mainstream with little evidence of experimentation, and yet there is variety and a particular use of instrumental colour throughout.

Josephs' writing for clarinet was reasonably idiomatic and always effective for the listener. This CD provides the Clarinet Quintet [listen -- track 3, 0:00-1:01] of 1985, and two later Sonatas for clarinet and piano. They display, as ever, a composer keenly conscious of colour without dilution of the elements of form and design. And this enterprise is entrusted to performers with the right feel for the music.

Copyright © 7 December 2002 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK


Wilfred Josephs - works for clarinet

MSV CD92058 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 64'02" 2002 David Lefeber, Metier Sound & Vision

Linda Merrick, clarinet, Benjamin Frith, piano, Kreutzer Quartet

Clarinet Quintet Op 135; Sonata No 1 for Clarinet and Piano Op 148; Sonata No 2 for Clarinet and Piano Op 149



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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Saturday series of shorter CD reviews