Tempo Magazine

Review: CD Into the Depths – Music for Contrabass Clarinet, Cuillin Sounds

Sarah Watts, contrabass clarinet; Antony Clare, piano

There is a particular atonal, gestural, ‘extended techniques’ language that we are very used to but which, now after 50 years, feels tired and musically redundant: composers need to beware of falling into this stylistic trap. Umbra apart, which typically does what Donatoni does, Uduman’s piece Into the Depths is the most successful here. There is a sense of drama and shape and a soundworld that draws the listener in with contrasting lyrical and low accented punctuations. Despite the ubiquitous extended techniques, the multiphonics and slaps (slaptongue, always a slightly vulgar noise I think, overused by so many composers, starts to outstay its welcome by the end of the disc), the materials are focused and meaningful – the whole builds to the end with a clear sense of progression, recognisable gestures returning and developing, the live electronics emphasising and enhancing the contra (it is very much a duo), with sounds based on the spectral analysis of a particular multiphonic and a short attack. All of this is played [by Sarah Watts] with great commitment and I’m sure we can look forward to a growing repertory.

Roger Heaton, Tempo Magazine