Review: Rosalind Appleby
When was the last time Australia had an entire concert dedicated to bass clarinet duets? It´s a pretty safe bet the answer was never, until Monday night. Duo Stump-Linshalm, flown in from Austria by the Totally Huge New Music Festival, put on a display of technical wizardry on bass clarinets that demonstrated just how far the clarinet has progressed since Mozart´s famous Clarinet Concerto.
Performing at the WAAPA auditorium, Petra Stump and Heinz-Peter Linshalm´s cutting-edge techniques included bending notes jazz-style, flutter tonguing, multiphonics (playing a low note plus a note of a higher frequency at the same time), slap tonguing and glissandos sliding up and down the octaves.
Not just technical masters, the Duo demonstrated poetic artistry with these weird-sounding effects, especially in a piece for solo bass clarinet by the Italien composer Claudio Ambrosini where Stump created whole lines of parallel melody solely from multiphonics. Chromatic notes rumbled in the rich low register of the instrument while above it, a sustained high note emerged from the harmonics. The piece finished with a whisper-soft chord that contained at least three notes played simultaneously. Miraculous stuff, all done with beautiful tone and breath control (yes, there was some circular breathing going on during long passages).
Vinko Globokar is worth a mention for his piece for amplified solo bass clarinet with mouthpiece removed. The tube was buzzed, blown and sucked by Linshalm to produce all kinds of “musical” noises, some strikingly similar to the didgeridoo….
…Both concerts contained the technical mastery, flashes of beauty, knife-edge moments and inevitable humour that new music is known for. The festival feast has well and truly begun.