A captivating release by one of England’s finest young musicians, combining three different approaches to counterpoint, an elemental musical technique running through centuries of music.
In every track Jonathan’s playing is excellent […] I found myself listening to [Another Country by Benedict Schlepper-Connolly] time after time. Excellent! – Kenneth Morris, Clarinet and Saxophone Society Magazine.
‘Architecture begins when two bricks are placed carefully together,’ said Mies van der Rohe. This idea runs through the debut album by the brilliant English clarinettist Jonathan Sage. This is a captivating release by one of England’s finest young musicians, combining three different approaches to counterpoint, an elemental musical technique running through centuries of music.
The American composer Steve Reich opens this vibrant new release with his minimal clarinet masterpiece New York Counterpoint. At times grand and spacious, Reich’s writing is propelled by exhuberant and joyful rhythms. Featuring eleven seperate clarinet lines (all performed by Sage), it is a spirited celebration of putting note against note, the basic act of counterpoint.
The Irish composer Benedict Schlepper-Connolly, whose first musical instrument was the violin, has arranged part of one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s sublime violin partitas for solo clarinet. The ‘Sarabande’ exposes baroque counterpoint in a stripped-down form, with the violin chords translated into delicate clarinet arpeggios.
Schlepper-Connolly also features with his powerful work Another Country. Commissioned by Sage, this acts as a sister piece to Reich’s and shares its multi-layered instrumentation. As the music gradually unfolds, an elegantly chugging choir of clarinets is absorbed by a frenzied whirl of melody. The momentum builds and the listener is torn along, the music’s vigour matched only by its moments of sudden tenderness.
Jonathan Sage, who is based in York, enjoys a varied career as soloist, orchestral and chamber musician. As a concerto soloist, Sage has played with, amongst others, the London Mozart Players, York Sinfonia and Ergodos Musicians, and once stood in for his teacher — the late Alan Hacker — to play the Mozart Clarinet Concerto at twenty-four hours notice.
Star features three meditative string duos by Irish composers Benedict Schlepper-Connolly, Garrett Sholdice and Simon O'Connor. These three works, each composed specifically for the incomparable Baroque violin/double bass duo of Maya Homburger and Barry Guy, are a reminder of the value of concentration, quietude, and slowness. Star is now available on limited edition vinyl.
An immaculately crafted, beautiful and poignant collection of nine piano pieces, Simon O'Connor's debut solo album is the result of over three years work from conception to release."... an hour-long meditative, introspective work that … lounges in being hard to place … [E]xtended duration and emotional directness are key to the work’s effect.” – Liam Cagney, The Journal of Music""...music that moves with a glacial pace interrupted by turbulent surges but always exuding a gentle, glowing warmth ... Belfast pianist Michael McHale plays with the utmost care for tonal detail and under-stated textural sophistication." – Michael Quinn, Classical Ear