Céleste Zewald's debut recital on CD with pianist Jaap Kooi reinforces an excellent impression this Amsterdam-based clarinettist made live at the Wigmore Hall's Rising Stars Day (ECHO) at Easter. Their international tour set up by the The European Concert Hall Organisation's prestigious international tour had taken in Carnegie Hall (New York) and leading European venues. Her programming for the CD is astute. Schumann is represented by his Romances, originally for oboe, published also for clarinet, despite the composer's express countermand. The clarinet is ideally suited to these melancholic songs without words, and they make a welcome change from the better known Fantasiestücke.
Balance and rapport is perfect, likewise in the far more demanding Brahms sonata in the original clarinet version (the viola a successful alternate). This is a peak of the clarinet repertoire, equally demanding for the pianist, his part judiciously played with authority and complete command of its textures, which need clarifying, by Jaap Kooi - as fine a performance of this masterwork as any on record.
The recorded programme begins with the late Poulenc sonata, composed as a memorial to Honegger, and is completed with a very welcome novelty, the 24-year old Lenny Bernstein's first published work, an accomplished sonata (1948) with a typically tricky piano part. This is a jazz influenced work for the clarinet, which 'can best explore this border-area between two worlds: only she can dream like this, and at the same time yell and rage', writes Jaap Kooi in his liner notes.
Clarinet enthusiasts should certainly acquire this CD by a Rising Star from the Netherlands, produced as part of the valuable Philip Morris Arts Prize 2002. More information on Céleste Zewald's website: www.celestezewald.nl
Copyright © 2004, Peter Grahame Woolf