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Shadows From Flames

Eric Mandat well-known for his marvellously crafted contemporary music for clarinet(s) which never fails to charm or captivate an audience. He was introducing/coordinating his Shadows from flames from 2008 to the European public for the first time. This stonking heavy-metal influenced work for solo clarinet accompanied by 4 riffing bass clarinets was given the finest performance by Eric with Rocco Parisi (Italy), Nuno Pinto (Portugal), Pedro Rubio (Spain), and Stephane Vermeersch(Belgium) on Basses. This extensive 5 movement piece is one of the longest of Mandat's works to date and it sustains the listener well through its 25 minutes. The opening movement is an energetic workout in true rock style for the basses. This gives way to a slow section with Rocco Parisi's 1st altissimo bass vying for tessitura with the clarinet line in an intensely beautiful passage before the clarinet takes up a long sad melody. The 3rd movement the basses are turned up to full power for a rising vamp while the clarinet hyperactively careers through the space above - almost a mission impossible with 4 basses to compete with. If Lalo Shifrin seemed not to have been far away, the 4th showed Mandat in reflective mood in a more static sad lullaby theme, with Eric playing as beautifully as ever and employing key clicks with more effect and expression than any 'contemporary' composer I have ever heard. In the 5th movement the rock bass clarinet superstars turned on the 4/4 grunge on their repeated notes while the clarinet solo keened over the top in a middle eastern mode. In the final apotheosis the basses played a simple chorale-like hymn - shades of Kurt Weill here - while the clarinet's progressively crazier interjections ruffled the surface.  What a brilliant piece and so wonderfully played by an all-star international cast!   --  Nicholas Cox, Professor, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester England

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