Duo Claripiano

Reviews

THE CLARINET (USA)
JUNe 2018
Review of ALBUM “V OBJEMU DVOJINE” (DUAL EMBRACE)
Stephanie Zelnick
A. Makor: Histria et amor; T. Habe: Zeleno, ki te ljubim zeleno; K. Rakar: Venec treh dolin; J. Golob: Tri prekmurske ljudske pesmi; P. Šavli: Oj, deklica, povej mi to; T. Vulc: Oblaki so rudeči & Petelinček je zapieu; A. Misson: Marija in Brodnik; H. Vidic: Kresna
ZKP, Publishing and Record Label RTV Slovenija,114755

This wonderfully conceived and executed album by Duo Claripiano, titled V objemu dvojine (Dual Embrace), includes eight original works based on Slovenian folk traditions that were written for the ensemble. It was “motivated into action by the gaping rift separating folk and art music in the chamber music repertoire.” This album is the latest collaboration by the Slovenia-based Duo Claripiano, consisting of Dušan Sodja, clarinet and Tatjana Kaučič, piano. Over their more-than-20-year collaboration, the pair have released notable albums and appeared at prestigious venues throughout the world.
This close collaboration can be seen in Duo Claripiano’s moving and effective performances on this album. Sodja’s wonderful command of the clarinet is matched by Kaučič’s masterful skills on the piano. The listener will be immediately struck by the seemingly effortless quality of the pair’s playing and responsiveness as a group. Whether traveling through tonal landscapes or extended techniques, the duo is in perfect sync not only with each other, but also with the composers that contributed their pieces to this album. The first work, Andrej Makor’s Histria et amor, is drawn from Istrian folk songs. Sodja’s clear and controlled tone, combined with Kaučič’s emotive yet sensitive playing, matches the lilting and beautiful quality of Makor’s composition. The next work, Tomaž Habe’s Zeleno, ki te ljubim zeleno (Green, how I want you green), is dedicated to the beauty of natural landscape and is based on Federico Garcia Lorca’s Verde que te quiero verde. Habe’s descriptive and multifaceted compositional style is well-matched by the nuanced and sensitive playing of the clarinet and piano.

The duo continues to take us on a journey through the Slovenian musical landscape with the third piece on the album, Katarina Pustinek Rakar’s Venec treh dolin (A Garland of Three Valleys). This work is a delightful and evocative fusion of contemporary takes on folk music from three geographical areas. The next piece, Jani Golob’s Tri prekmurske ljudske pesmi (Three Folk Songs from Prekmurje), is a three-movement work based on the Prekmurian region. This work is a well-composed guide for those unfamiliar with Slovenia and suits Sodja’s flexibility and prowess on the instrument. Next up is Peter Šavli’s Oj, deklica, povej mi to (Hey, maiden, do tell me) that includes delightful compositional treatments of folk material. This is followed by Tadeja Vulc’s modern and innovative Oblaki so rudeči & Petelinček je zapieu (The Clouds are Red & The Little Rooster Crowed). Vulc combines traditional compositional elements with extended techniques in a breathtakingly innovative manner while still staying true to the spirit of the folk material. Sodja and Kaučič really show their full range on this track both as individuals and as an ensemble. The special effects in this work only add to the experience of the listener and the mission of the album instead of becoming the main event. Likewise, in the duo’s interpretation of Andrej Misson’s Marija in Brodnik /Marija z Ogrskega gre (Maria and the Ferryman/Maria on Her Way from Hungary ), his haunting and energetic storytelling is conveyed well by the performers. The disc is concluded with Helena Vidic’s Kresna (Midsummer Days ), which yet again serves as a wonderful tour guide to the musical landscape of Slovenia.

The playing and material on this album are of superb quality as are the descriptive program notes. Well-conceived and delivered, this recording and the original works contained within are essential additions to every clarinetist’s collection. We will all hopefully be hearing even more of these compositions and performers on concert stages around the world. [See also Gregory Barrett’s review of the works by Peter Šavli, Andrej Makor and Jani Golob in the December 2017 issue. Ed .]


ROHRBLATT, Berlin
JUNI 2018, S.85-86
Review of ALBUM “V OBJEMU DVOJINE” (DUAL EMBRACE)
Diether STEPPUHN
A. MAKOR, T. HABE, K. RAKAR, J. GOLOB, P. ŠAVLI, T. VULC, A. MISSON, H. VIDIC

Volkslied – Umarmung

Musiker und Komponisten haben schon immer und überall Volksweisen als Inspirationsquelle genutzt. In der Klassik entstanden so zahllose Musikwerke der Grossen und der Kleineren – die Namen Bartok, Brahms, Dvorak und viele andere fallen einem spontan ein – , deren volkstümlich angeregte Werke immer wieder von neuem begeistern. Das gilt auch für das Balkanland Slowenien, nach wechsel- und leidvoller Geschichte heute schon fast dreissig Jahre lang als parlamentarische Republik Mitglied der UNO, seit 2004 der EU und der NATO. In vielen Jahrhunderten hat sich bis heute durch alle Wirren der Ereignisse ein tiefverwurzeltes Liedgut erhalten.

Ein musikbegeistertes slowenische Künstlerpaar, Klarinettist und Pianistin, spielt sich schon seit Jahren erfolgreich in die vorderen Reihen der internationalen Musikszene: das Duo Claripiano – wie es sich originell nennt – fand vor drei Jahren mit einer CD zu seinem 20jährigen Jubiläum lobende Erwähnung auf diesen Seiten (s. “Rohrblatt” 3/2015 S.150). Nun folgt eine zweite CD mit einem ebenso abwechslungsreichen wie heimatverbundenen Programm. Acht zeitgenössische Komponisten Sloweniens folgten einer Einladung der beiden Künstler und schrieben für sie Werke, die sämtlich auf Folklore und Volksweisen beruhen. Was da entstand, lässt sich mehr als eine Stunde lang geniessen, ohne dass die Spannung nachlässt. In jedem Werk hört man mehr oder wenig deutlich, aber nie allzu entfremdet, Melodisches, von dem man sofort glaubt, dass es auf volkstümlichem Liedgut beruht. Alle nach dem Krieg geborenen Komponisten – heute zwischen 31 und 71 Jahre alt – verarbeiten ihre Vorlagen in den unterschiedlichsten musikalischen Formen, nutzen moderne Rhythmik und neuartige Geräusch- und Klangeffekte, beispielweise Tadeja Vulc in zwei Stücken, deren Titel “Die Wolken sind rot” und “Der kleine Hahn kräht” Vorlagen abgeben für Klangmalereien in unterschiedlichsten Ausprägungen. Die slowenischen Titel der Stücke sind auf dem Cover vorn und hinten und im doppelsprachigen Beiheft ins englische übersetzt und beschreiben meist Stimmungen, sind aber wohl auch Liedanfänge: “Istrien und Liebe”, “Girlane der drei Täler”, “Drei Volkslieder aus Prekmurje”, “O Mädchen, sag mir”, “Sommertage” und mehr… Das aber genügt schon, um sich auf das Klanggeschehen zu konzentrieren, das fast immer ein beeindruckendes Mass an Kompositionsfertigkeit erkennen lässt, die Emotionen schildert: da stehen Schwärmen, Flehen, Schmeicheln, Klagen, Beschwören, Naturbeschreiben nebeneinander, da wird auch getanzt, gesungen, jubiliert, dann wieder geseufzt, genörgelt, gelobt, geschimpft: Leben halt, und man ist versucht, sich Liedertexte dazu auszudenken…

Die beiden Musiker vermitteln alle Facetten dieser musikalischen Vielfalt in unterschiedlichsten Klangfarben so anrührend und überzeugend, wie es voll nur gellingen kann, wenn man in dieser volksverbundenen Klangwelt aufgewachsen ist und ihre Einflüsse in sich trägt. Der dieser Produktion noch beigegebene Untertitel “V objemu dvojine” (“Dual Embrace”) bezieht sich zwar auf die Zusammenarbeit mit dem 1. Programm des Slowenischen Rundfunks, der sie ermöglichte und bei dem die CD auch erschienen ist, lässt sich aber auch passend auf die beiden prächtigen Interpreten anwenden, die den Zuhörer einer Volksseele näherbringen, die mit den Wechselspielen des Lebens fertigwerden musste und die Volksmusik auch selbst als Kraftquelle nutzte…


ROHRBLATT, Berlin
September 2015
Review of album “20 CLARIPIANO”
Dr. Heicke Fricke
G.Finzi, M.Lipovšek, L.Rančigaj, K.Penderecki, C.Debussy, J.Matičič, L.Lebič, W.Lutoslawski

Duo Claripiano has celebrated their twentieth anniversary with a CD, containing the works, the two artists are particularly inclined to or dedicated to. With its velvety clarinet and its fine, dynamic delicate way of playing, the clarinettist Dušan Sodja interpreted the Gerald Finzi’s “Five Bagatelles” with a shining example. The same applies to the “Dance Preludes” by Witold Lutoslawski and Debussy’s “Premiere Rhapsody”: clarinettist plays with a refined, always controlled tone, with clear articulation and in an absolutely eloquent way. Also his partner Tatjana Kaučič is able to elicit a rich variety of timbres on the piano, which comes in particular to light with the “Three Fairy Tales” by Marijan Lipovšek.

Two compositions on this CD are dedicated to the duo, namely Ljubo Rančigaj’s “Prelude and Rondo” from 2006 and Janez Matičič‘s “Canto Rapsodico”, which was composed in 2005. It seems as if Rančigaj has written his work, to a certain extent, especially for the clarinettist, the dark timbre of his clarinet gives namely the beginning of the Prelude a distinctive warm color, however, it could have been composed no less than thirty years earlier. Quite different from Matičič‘s work. The multifaceted piece uses perky modern playing techniques on clarinet and piano, processes reminiscences of the composer on the time in Paris and contains also jazzy sounds. Playing together, Sodja and Kaučič convince here with rhythmic precision, tone flexibility and excellent intonation. The piece represents a welcome addition to the repertoire for clarinet and piano, and may well prove worthwhile for ambitious clarinet players.


 

The Clarinet
December 2012
Romantic Claripiano. Duo Claripiano. Dusan Sodja, clarinet; Tatjana Kaucic, piano. Sonata for Clarinet and piano, op. 167, Camille Saint-‐Säens;  Sonata for Piano and Violin in A minor, op. 105, no. 1 (arrangement for clarinet); Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in F minor, op. 120, no. 1, Johannes Brahms.
The Slovenian Philharmonic, SF900068.

Romantic Claripiano. I couldn’t have said it better myself. The duo’s name exactly describes what happens when these two fine musicians collaborate-one can hardly tell where one ends and the other begins. This is one of the finest duos that I have ever encountered. Duo Claripiano is the married couple, Dušan Sodja, clarinet and Tatjana Kaučič, piano, who began collaborating 17 years ago while young students, performing works of Brahms and Schumann. Their mutual love of the chamber works of Romantic composers has remained strong and dominated the last few years of their creative work. In their own words; “It is a dialogue of love that also accompanies everyday life.” Perfectly said. This CD contains two staples of the clarinet repertoire; the Saint-‐Saens and the Brahms F minor sonatas but also contains a work that is much less often played on clarinet; the Schumann A minor violin sonata. The duo’s performance of the Saint-‐Saens Sonata is a cohesive one that demonstrates the lyrical melodies as the focal point, never bringing attention to the technical demands of the work. Both performers seem effortless in displaying their craft, performing as one with regards to the phrasing and tone color choices. The Schumann A minor violin sonata (one of my favorite pieces of music) sounds stunning on clarinet. Why Schumann didn’t write this originally for clarinet is a mystery, but it works perfectly on our instrument. An interesting statement in the liner notes state that it is played equally on clarinet as on violin! I’m delighted to hear this since the clarinet repertoire can always use some additional works. Sodja plays his arrangement entirely on his Buffet Tosca B-flat clarinet however other clarinetists often use both their B-flat and A clarinets. The duo’s Brahms F minor sonata is one of the finest recordings I’ve heard of this work. The artists match phrasing, tone color and temperament to a degree that is rare in any performance. A lifetime of playing (and living!) together has brought this work to a new level and it’s simply exquisite to hear artists of this caliber collaborate with such beautiful results.

The playing of Dušan Sodja and Tatjana Kaučič is magical. The great variety of tone colors from both instruments combined with their subtle nuanced phrases make this a very special collaboration and a “must have” compact disc. I look forward to hearing more from these fine musicians.

Julia Heinen is Professor of Clarinet at California State University, Northridge. She is a Buffet Group USA and Rico Reed Artist and served as Co-Artistic Director of ClarinetFest 2011 in Los Angeles.


 

IL PICCOLO
14.januar 2008
recenzija CD plošče »Riflessi mitteleuropei«
Tatjana Kaučič, klavir
»Riflessi mitteleuropei« s klavirjem Tržičana Riccarda Fabrisa

»Riflessi mitteleuropei« je zgoščenka z glasbo Riccarda Fabrisa, ki je izšla pred kratkim pri založbi Pizzicato. Naslov hkrati označuje stilske namere programa, ki je enostavno prepoznaven, zaradi vplivov v osrednjeevropskem področju, na katerega se eksplicitno sklicuje. To so odsevi nemške dediščine, ki se stapljajo s čisto italijansko ekstravertiranostjo. Povezavo je čutiti tudi na simbolnem nivoju, in sicer, srečanju onstran meja, ki jih ni več: med italijanskim avtorjem in slovensko pianistko Tatjano Kaučič.

Tržiški skladatelj, učenec klavirja v razredu Luciana Ganteja in kompozicije Luigija A. Giganteja, se tokrat predstavlja s tremi deli iz leta 2005 kot pianist, ki piše za lasten inštrument. Uvertura je zaupana spevni naravi, ekstravertirana in sentimentalna Suita za klavir, odlomek, s katerim se je začelo sodelovanje v letu 2006 med Fabrisom in Kaučičevo, kot njegovo prvo izvajalko na Edinburg Fringe Festivalu. Strastni toni označujejo tudi zadnja stavka tridelne PalinodijeII, ki zaključujeta lirični in zamišljeni Larghetto. Palinodija I živi rapsodično razpoloženje, ki podoživlja odmeve antičnega kontrapunkta, tke stisnjene dialoge med glasovi in poslušalcem, v tesnobi pripovedujoč površinske občutke.
Gre za glasbo brez vonja inovacije, natančne strukturalne in stilistične refleksije novoromantika, ki je asimiliral ekspresionistične lekcije, in ne zavrača impresionističnih uklonov, da bi dal življenje svojemu osebnemu jeziku, ki spaja različne izkušnje.

Senzibilna ljubljanska pianistka giblje fraziranje ekspresivno, odlaša z umerjenostjo, poglablja obliko, se osredotoči na ekspresivnost vsebine partiture, v njej skrbno raziskuje komunikativno željo, odločno in natančno poudarja pomembnost ritmičnega elementa, in na koncu razsvetli z neko globinsko čistostjo glasu, jasno avtorjevo ekspresivnost.
Zapisi libreta z vodičem za poslušanje so izpod peresa Claudia Gherbitza.


 

The Clarinet
December 2005
CD review from Julia Heinen
Album: Srečanja (Encounters)
Works by Firšt, Krek, Paterson, Petrić, Pucihar and Ramovš

Clarinetist Dusan Sodja and pianist Tatiana Kaucic have completed their second compact disc collaboration. Their first CD, Legends, was completed in 2000 and features several standard works for clarinet and piano. Their second CD, Encounters, features all new music by Slovenian composers, with all but one of the works written specifically for this duo. This compact disc was recorded in the Concert Hall of Slovenian Philharmony, which Sodja is a member, with one microphone in DVD quality and then squeezed to CD format. Sodja played Selmer clarinets for this recording and the piano was a Steinway D-model.

Uros Krek’s Saraband for Natasha was written in 1994, the year this duo joined forces. Kaucic states in her program notes that she and Sodja wanted to record this as a reminder of the their tenth anniversary of music-making. This is a hauntingly beautiful work in a single movement which is quite impressionistic in nature. The clarinet and piano intertwine with a touch of melancholy expressing dark emotions in beautiful melodic gestures which leave us wanting more.

The second work is Ivo Pertric’s “Autumn Encounters” for which this compact disc is titled. This piece was written in 1999 and first performed in April of 2000. Kaucic states in her program notes that “Autumn represents the composer’s maturity in comparison with our youth.” This work has five short movements which feature intricate ensemble playing coupled with rhythmic independence. The performance is stunning, highlighting a perfect balance between these two wonderful musicians.

Uros Krek’s Sonatina is a significant work in three movements. It is a rhythmically driving and filled with wonderful sounds and fascinating mood changes. The last movement is delightful with its intricate use of rhythmic interest and light-hearted motives. While this is the only work on this compact disc not written specifically for this duo, Sodja states “He (Krek) remains out “Lieblingskomponist” as you can hear it in the Sarabande which we play practically on every concert.”

Primoz Ramovs composed “D-S” for Sodja and it was premiered by the duo at his graduation concert in 1995. It is a true virtuoso work for both clarinet and piano. These two musicians meet every challenge with remarkable fluidity It is an exquisite composition and one which deserves to be a staple in the clarinet repertoire.

Nenad First’s “Diary” was written in 2000 and is a “tour de force” for this formidable duo. An exceptionally large palate of sounds is demanded by this substantial work. Again, these two are up to the task, not only technically but sonically and expressively as well.

Jaka Puchihar is the youngest composer represented on this recording having been born in 1976. This work, written in 2002, is lighter in nature and was composed at the request of the duo for a work with which to end their concert programs. It incorporates many fascinating compositional elements including several from the jazz idiom. It also has a significant cadenza for clarinet which is played with driving excitement by Sodja.

The last work is Scottish composer Wilma Paterson’s “I Dreamed I was in the Forest of Badenoch.” Kaucic states, “The composition was written at our request, since at the concert in Tomintoul, where Wilma lived at that time, we wished to play a work composed by a native.” The work is a wonderful Scottish ballad and after a very rhapsodic opening, features a darkly beautiful melody played by the clarinet. This is a wonderful piece and one which explores the full capacities of both instrumentalists.

This recording is definitely a significant CD and is an important addition to the recorded works for clarinet and piano. It brings to light many new works by some of Slovnia’s most notable contemporary composers. Sodja’s playing incorporates a wide variety of beautiful and haunting sounds. His dynamic range is wide and he expresses his deep emotions with a multi-faceted use of tone color. His exquisite playing reveals flawless intonation, total technical control of the instrument and most importantly, a deep-felt musicality which connects with the listener. Kaucic’s pianism is formidable. She is an insightful musician and one who knows exactly how to perform as a collaborative artist. Their performance is stunning and the ensemble beyond reproach. It is apparent through this recording that this is a world-class duo from which we hope to hear many years of music making.


 

The Clarinet
December 2001
CD review by David Niethamer
Legende. Dusan Sodja, clarinet; Tatjana Kaucic, piano.
Claude Pascal: Three Legends; Malcolm Arnold: Sonatina, Op. 29; Ivo Petric: Sonata;
Leonard Bernstein: Sonata; Francis Poulenc: Sonata; Joseph Horovitz: Sonatina.
CORONA CCX 196. Total time 72:21.

Dusan Sodja is a clarinetist in the Slovenian Philharmonic. His studies have been in Slovenia and at the Salzburg Mozarteum. Sodja plays with a beautiful sound, good intonation, a wide dynamic range, and very expressive phrasing.
This disc contains six works for clarinet and piano from France, America, England and Slovenia. The title of the disc derives from the only work on the CD not entitled Sonata or Sonatina, Claude Pascal’s Three Legends for clarinet and piano.

The disc opens with Pascal’s work, which was written for Ulysse Delecluse in 1964. This is a new work to me. It serves as a wonderful introduction to the CD, and would make a good recital opener as well. It is in three movements, each with an evocative title. Dusan Sodja plays with colors and moods which beautifully match the music. This piece deserves wider exposure, and this performance alone is a good reason to acquire this CD.

Another less well-known work is the Sonata (1956/57) by Slovenian composer Ivo Petric, who also wrote the notes for this CD. According to Petric’s own notes, during the 1950s he embarked on a project to write sonatas for many of the wind and brass instruments, much like Hindemith. This sonata owes a large debt to Hindemith in terms of the harmonic language and the lyrical use of the clarinet. Still it is an appealing work, a good alternative to the Hindemith for recital programs. Sodja’s playing is idiomatic, with a beautiful sound and good intonation.

The English contribution to the repertoire for this disc is Malcolm Arnold’s Sonatina, which dates from 1951, and Joseph Horovitz’s Sonatina (1981), another infrequently played work which is rarely found on recordings. Horovitz’s Sonatina is very conservative in tonality and the melodic use of the clarinet, and treads the line between popular and concert music. It is very beautifully performed by Sodja, as it plays to his strengths of beautiful tone and careful attention to intonation. In the Arnold, in the more rhythmic and articulated passages, I found myself wanting more “bite” in the articulation, and more incisive rhythm in the playing, but that’s a small point in this recording.

The remainder of the disc is devoted to two chestnuts of the repertoire, the sonatas of Leonard Bernstein and Francis Poulenc. Both are performed ably.

The pianist on this CD, Tatjana Kaucic, is always very accomplished. She is a strong player technically―those of us who have played the Bernstein will remember the “impossible” parts of the first movement, which are here played with ease―and a sensitive and equal sonata partner. Kaucic and Sodja have performed together since 1994, and it shows in their excellent ensemble playing.


 

From BBC Music Magazine
(November 2001)
Album: LEGENDS
Works by Arnold, Bernstein, Horovitz, Pascal, Petrić & Pascal
Dušan Sodja, clarinet
Tatjana Kaučič, piano
Corona CCX 196

Although only two of the works in their programme fall outside the mainstream repertoire, this new recording by a young Slovenian duo is most welcome for its refreshingly different interpretations. Using considerably more rubato than is customary, they make a compelling case for Poulenc’s well-known Sonata, including a ravishing reading of the beautiful slow movement. Dušan Sodja is an extremely assured player with a prodigious technique but these qualities never overshadow the more elusive ability to play long cantabile lines with real depth. His rendition of the gorgeous central movement of Horovitz’s Sonatina is outstanding and represents one of the highlights of the disc.

Of the two lesser-known pieces, Claude Pascal’s Three Legends proves a revelation with its vivid, strikingly presented characterisations given by this partnership. The Sonatina by Malcolm Arnold, a work very familiar to clarinettists of all standards, is seen here from a different perspective and the unusual approach to phrasing and articulation should make interesting listening for those with preconceived ideas. Throughout their recital, both players give sparkling, uncontrived performances which convey a genuine passion fro the music, thereby ensuring that this disc can be highly recommended.
Tim Payne

PERFORMANCE ***** (EXCELLENT)
SOUND **** (VERY GOOD)

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