The Romance for Clarinet, Strings and Harp is the first of a multi volume set of recordings, displaying the chamber music of Johnterryl Plumeri. Featuring the exquisite playing of clarinetist Robert Fitzer, flautists Louise Di Tullio and Kathryn Humble, oboist David Weiss and harpist Gail Levant, volume one focuses on five Plumeri compositions spanning the years 1979 through 2007. From the swirling textures of Sand Without Water to the sultry romance of Evening Light, this CD provides an extended journey into the delicate side of Johnterryl Plumeri. Mixed by Plumeri and mastered by Grammy award winning mastering engineer Arnie Acosta, The Romance for Clarinet, Strings and Harp gives the listener a clear and live experience of the lyricism of Johnterryl Plumeri.
Fanfare Magazine Review:
Back in the 1990s, this writer favorably reviewed an earlier GMMC release of two orchestral scores by Johnterryl Plumeri—Pride of Baltimore and Wind Flower for oboe and orchestra. Later on, there was also a recording of his tunefully lively Bassoon Concerto. All of this music evinced a type of striking élan that had immediate appeal for all of us who feel starved of sheer sonic enjoyment. Moreover, Plumeri was a true professional who knew his way around an orchestra and possessed an inherent feel for molding and shaping a satisfying aural experience.
Now, more than a decade later, comes this typically pleasurable GMMC program of five Plumeri works for chamber combinations of varied components, all highlighting woodwinds with string accompaniment. Except for the Romance, they all carry evocative titles that might prompt the uninitiated to mistake this disc for a “new wave” collection full of repetitive banalities. But in point of fact, all of this music is characterized by the same high level of poise, polish and proportion.
In a sense, these works are all celebrations of the natural world and its spiritually transfixing beauty. Sand without Water features a solo duo of flute and English horn, supported by a complement of 13 strings and harp. The Romance surrounds its clarinet soloist with a string quintet, and harp. Reflections calls for a sonorous trio of flute, cello, and harp; Night Forest is set for a sextet of three winds and three strings. And Evening Light is a kind of rhapsodic prelude for just flute and piano. Although all this music emphasizes a evocative lyricism with strong accents of oriental modalism, there are occasional brief outbreaks of contrasting energy so that any danger of tonal sameness is usually averted. But this is not in any way purely background music either; the receptive listener will be absorbed into a sound world of poetic poignancy that casts an enthralling spell.
The composer himself conducts the three works requiring a large ensemble in an altogether idiomatic manner, and the whole enterprise effective use of a group of outstanding musicians including flutist Louise di Tullio, harpist Gayle Levant, and the late clarinetist Robert Fitzer. The superbly upfront recording has pellucid immediacy that separates individual instrumental voices and gives them an almost palpable breathing space. The production values are handsome, though some annotation about Plumeri’s background at least would be welcome. Not only ear candy but soothing to the soul as well.
Paul A. Snook - Fanfare Magazine