This most recent recording by the outstanding Slovenian clarinetist Joze Kotar, in collaboration with harpist Nicoletta Sanzin-Fabbri, is one you will not want to miss. Recommended for both its excellent performances and interesting repertoire, Collage is a sure winner. The sound engineering is first-rate.
JOZE KOTAR is principal clarinet with the Slovene Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and associate professor at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana. He began playing the clarinet in his home-town, Trbovlje, under the teaching of Ervin Plevnik. He then continued his studies in Ljubljana under Prof. Alojz Zupan, and in 1992 completed his postgraduate studies at the Academy of Music. In numerous competitions at home and abroad he has won nine first prizes, and has also been granted the Academy and the University Prešeren Award. In his guest appearances abroad he represented (former) Yugoslavia in 1988 at the competition "Europäischer Preis" in Zürich, and was also principal clarinet with the Mediterranean Orchestra and the Alpe-Adria Orchestra.
As a soloist and as a member of chamber ensembles he has performed in Slovenia, (former) Yugoslavia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland and USA. In the Slovene Philharmonic Orchestra he has performed under many well-known conductors, including Carlos Kleiber. Last year his first CD with The Slovene Philharmonic String Quartet was published by ZKP RTV Slovenia. He is also a member of the ARIART Woodwind Quintet - which in 1998 issued its first CD for the recording service of RTV Slovenia - a member of the Slovene clarinet quartet and founder of Slovenian Clarinet Choir. In addition, he performs as a clarinetist with the orchestras Slovenicum, Consortium musicum, the Slovene Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Slovene Police, and the Workers wind Band of Trbovlje, and also records for radio and television.
Harpist Nicoletta Sanzin-Fabbri performs as a soloist and in chamber ensembles in her native Italy and abroad. She also appears regularly with Teatro Verdi in Trieste, Alps-Adriatic Youth Orchestra, RAI Symphony Orchestra, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and since 1995 has been solo harpist with the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra.
Robert Nicholas Charles Bochsa (1789-1856), one of the most prolific composers for harp, served as court harpist to Napoleon and to Louis XVIII. Unfortunately his success as a performer could not keep him out of trouble with the law and he was forced to flee the country in 1817 due to forgery charges. Settling in England, Bochsa again rose to prominence and was appointed professor of harp at the Royal Academy of Music. Bochsa's Theme and Variations, transcribed for clarinet and harp by Frederic Robert, is a short and thoroughly appealing work. Kotar's beautiful sound and delicate sense of phrasing add to the simple charm of the work. Nocturne No. 1 is highly virtuosic and demonstrates the tight-knit ensemble achieved by Kotar and Sanzin-Fabbri. Following a brief introduction the clarinet introduces a charming "music-box-like" tune that dominates the work. As the piece unfolds both performers are given brilliant, excellently executed cadenzas and ample passage work.
The next selection is the technically demanding Concert Fantasy on "La Traviata" by Italian composer and flutist Donato Lovreglio (1841-1907). Originally composed for clarinet and piano, the Fantasy works remarkably well with harp. Sanzin-Fabbri's beautiful playing enhances Kotar's lyric, unhurried approach to this brilliant showpiece. Throughout the technical hurdles Kotar maintains excellent tone control, always emphasizing the lyricism of the work.
Iwan Muller (1786-1854), born in Reval, Estonia of German parentage, is best known today for his excellent clarinet studies. An inventor of the highest order, Muller produced a new 13-key clarinet with improved intonation in 1809, was the first to use stuffed pads, and in 1817 invented the metal ligature. His travels eventually took him to all major European cities, where he avidly performed works of his own composition on his new instrument. His Cavatina (c. 1825) from The Barber of Seville is one of his numerous concert pieces. Played with brilliance and finesse by Kotar and Sanzin-Fabbri, Rossini's melodies are truly captivating in this performance.
Aubert Lemeland's (b. 1932) Capriccio was given its first performance in 1976 by clarinetist Robert Fontaine and harpist Marlene Geliot. Conceived as a duet for equal partners, Lemeland's short Capriccio is a compelling work. The dance-like opening, highly rhythmic in character, is played with perfect precision by Kotar and Sanzin-Fabbri. Kotar's beautiful, fluid sound and delicate high register playing bring out the lyricism of the extensive slow section that follows. After a brief buildup of momentum the work hurriedly comes to a dramatic conclusion. Paul Reade's (1943-1997) imaginative Suite from The Victorian Kitchen Garden was first performed on BBC television by clarinetist Emma Johnson and harpist Skaila Kanga. Each of the five movements: "Prelude," "Spring," "Mists," "Exotica" and "Summer" are given splendid performances by Kotar and Sanzin-Fabbri. Mr. Kotar's fine legato playing and unhurried pace add to the appeal of the beautiful, flowing "Prelude," and his crisp execution of the birdlike ornaments in "Spring" makes this movement sparkle. "Summer," played with delicacy and flawless technique, brings this charming work quietly to an end.
Igor Krivokapic's (b. 1965 in Ljubljana) Capriccio for E6 clarinet and harp was newly commissioned by Kotar and Sanzin-Fabbri for this recording. Tubist, composer, music teacher and radio editor, Krivokapic has written a variety of works ranging from those for symphony orchestra to various chamber groupings. Capriccio, conceived for this unusual combination, is strongly suggestive of Slavic folk song, yet according to the composer, does not include any actual folk melodies. Kotar fully captures the lyrical and highly virtuosic elements of this work, along with pure tone, flawless intonation and crisp articulation, all which serve to bring this disc to a brilliant close.