Works For Clarinet And Chamber Ensemble
Gerald Cohen composer
Grneta Ensemble | Vasko Dukovski clarinet; Ismail Lumanovski clarinet; Alexandra Joan piano; Jennifer Choi violin; Maria Lambros viola
The clarinet is an essential voice in many genres, from classical and jazz to klezmer and world music, and composer Gerald Cohen calls it one of his favorite instruments: “I love the clarinet for its wide variety of character and dynamics, and its ability to either blend beautifully with other instruments or to stand out in a crowd.” Through this affinity, the composer offers new compositions featuring the clarinet in various trio settings on his debut Navona Records release, SEA OF REEDS.
Cohen’s dramatic and lyrical compositions explore the clarinet’s colorful personality with his particular blend of classical, Jewish, and jazz influences. Variously Blue is a vibrant group of variations on a twelve-bar blues pattern, highlighting an interplay between jazz and concert music; the title collection Sea of Reeds arranges five of Cohen’s Jewish vocal works, turning them into virtuosic clarinet showpieces. Yedid Nefesh, based on a delicate Sephardic song, explores both meditative and exuberant aspects of that melody, while the wide-ranging variations of Grneta Variations take advantage of the wonderful virtuosity and unique musical personalities of the three musicians of the Grneta Ensemble.
Cohen is a prominent synagogue cantor in addition to his career as a composer, and his love of the voice shines through in this collection of purely instrumental chamber music as well. He has composed a large body of much-performed chamber, choral and solo vocal music, as well as several operas. Lucid Culture has praised the “…mesmerizingly hypnotic, intricately contrapuntal” character of Cohen’s writing, and Gramophone Magazine has hailed him for his “linguistic fluidity and melodic gift.”
The performers on the album are the dynamic young members of the Grneta Ensemble (Vasko Dukovski and Ismail Lumanovski, clarinets; and Alexandra Joan, piano), together with the superb string players Jennifer Choi and Maria Lambros. The three members of the Grneta Ensemble share an Eastern European heritage and a love of folk and improvised music, and have been particularly devoted to Cohen’s chamber music.