Sliding Doors originated in the tempo marking of the first movement of Nino Rota’s sonata for clarinet and piano: Rota writes Scorrevole, meaning flowing or supple — a very versatile word — above the first movement. Porte scorrevoli therefore means sliding doors and is our indication of the structure and character of this programme: Behind every door, as it were, a new musical perspective appears. One door reveals the melancholy of Gerald Finzi and another the exciting virtuosity of Henri Rabaud.
The opening piece on this CD is by Gerald Finzi; his unique feeling for melancholy allows him to create a particular atmosphere in just a few notes. The piano and clarinet converse warmly and lovingly In his Romance.
A new door opens and we step back in time. The feeling of melancholy remains, but now in an arrangement for clarinet and strings of the noble Largo from Handel’s Concerto Grosso Op.3, no. 2.
Handel’s flowing string lines find a connection with the following work, Nino Rota’s Sonata for clarinet and piano: ethereal, natural, melodic and versatile are the terms that characterise this sonata. Lyricism predominates in the work’s three movements, with vocal lines and inventive harmonies alternating in a completely natural and almost timeless way.
Ferruccio Busoni’s youthful boisterousness is also timeless. The realisation that he was already writing works for clarinet and piano at the age of fifteen was particularly special for us, whilst the fact that his parents played clarinet and piano adds even more lustre to his youthful works. The sensitivity and genius of his Elegia and Tema Variato immediately caught our attention.
Henri Rabaud hit the ground running with his Solo de Concours. The cadenza immediately sets the tone and is followed by a magnificent Largo. Rabaud takes a bird’s eye view of various styles and techniques and lets you hear the possibilities of both instruments in amazement. He splendidly illuminates both dark and light timbres and combines them with infectiously rhythmic patterns.
The final notes of the Solo de Concours have only just died away when we open the last door and Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes op.34 fills our ears. This is a thrilling and exhilarating work in which Prokofiev moves us by alternating march-like rhythms with lyrical melodies that seem to float.