Steep Steps: New Works for Bass Clarinet

Steep Steps: New Works for Bass Clarinet cover $30.00 In Stock add to cart

Steep Steps: New Works for Bass Clarinet
Andrew Uren (bass clarinet) / 175 East / STROMA

[ Atoll Records / CD ]

Release Date: Tuesday 20 December 2011

"Here is a CD of outstanding bass clarinet music from New Zealand and elsewhere, in the solo, ensemble, and chamber concerto genres. I have waited for 20 years to make this CD because I wanted the repertoire to be strong. I believe that now the time is right for the world to hear this music."
Andrew Uren

"Andrew Uren is easily one of the greatest bass-clarinet players I have ever encountered, easily the equal of Harry Sparnaay and Evan Ziporyn. Taking its title from the late Elliott Carter work at its centre, "Steep Steps" is a coherent but diverse picture of the ways contemporary composers write for the instrument. Uren's performance of the Carter piece is slightly more lyrical in character than others I have heard but I'm always happy to hear new interpretations of this thorny little gem. The two pieces by James Gardner make me wish there was more of his music on CD generally. They are short works but feel densely packed with substance. De Castro-Robinson's piece rhymes somewhat with the opening piece by Australian composer Gerald Brophy in its funkiness (there is almost a sub-genre of contemporary works for bass clarinet that take advantage of its sonic link both to the saxophones of jazz and the bass guitars and synthesisers of funk and disco): both are delightful. The pieces by Anthony Gilbert, John Rimmer, and Peter Scholes were all new to me and performed with panache, comittment and often intensely beautiful. Claudio Ambrosini's music has been regettably totally unknown to me and I'm grateful for the chance to hear it: the piece on this disc is an astonishing display of timbral variety and control, sometimes at the edges of the possible, given stunning advocacy by Uren. At the close of the disc the recording of "Echange" (Exchange) by the late Iannis Xenakis is possibly the finest performance of the piece I have encountered, with a velvety richness in the bass register of the opening and the raucous multiphonics of the soloist beautifully captured. It's a stunning work, extremely odd even by Xenakis's standards and the dissonant block chords of soloist and ensemble are almost perfectly tuned and balanced. Definitely my favourite recording of this piece now.
This CD, very obviously a labour of love for Uren, is a stunning vindication of the important place that performers of new music have in this country. The fact that we have dedicated performers like STROMA and 175 East (of which Uren is a member) in NZ is a cause for celebration in itself: the fact that the results acheived are truly of world-class standard is even more heartening. I hope to hear a sequel to this disc one day." (Keith@Marbecks Classical)


1 gloVe (1995)
Gerard Brophy
2 Réflexions, Rose nord (1997)
Anthony Gilbert
3 Charge (1987)
James Gardner
4 These Boots (are made for dancing) (2001)
Eve de Castro-Robinson
5 Steep Steps (2001)
Elliott Carter
6 AU (2002)
John Rimmer
7 Wireless for bass clarinet (1987)
Peter Scholes
8 Knot (1996)
James Gardner
9 Capriccio, detto 'L'Ermafrodita' for bass clarinet (1983)
Claudio Ambrosini
10 Échange (1989)
Iannis Xennakis
Total Duration: 79:12