Wednesday 29 April 2015

Max Mausen - debut CD

Max Mausen © Ian Dingle
Max Mausen © Ian Dingle
Debussy, Stravinsky, Ivan Boumans, James Anderson/Max Mausen; Max Mausen, James Anderson
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Apr 21 2015
Star rating: 4.0

Showcase for a talented young clarinettist

Max Mausen is a young clarinettist, born in Luxembourg, he trained at the conservatoire there and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and he is now principal clarinettist of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. Like many artists, he has moved into producing his own CD as a showcase for his considerable talents. The new disc, New Waves, has Max Mausen partnered by pianist Jason Anderson in Claude Debussy's Premiere rhapsodie, Igor Stravinsky's Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet, Tryptique by Ivan Boumans and Walthamstow Fall by Jason Anderson and Mausen himself.

Max Mausen and Jason Anderson open with Debussy's Premiere rhapsodie for clarinet and piano, which was written in 1910 as an examination piece for the Paris Conservatoire and it is Debussy's only major work for solo clarinet. Max Mausen creates a long lyrical line, to which he gives a lovely endless feel, playing with seductive yet clear tone. He and Jason Anderson capture the atmosphere of mystery about the piece and technically both are superb, in both the lyrical sections and the cascades of notes at the end. Jason Anderson's piano is captured rather over resonantly on the recording.

Igor Stravinsky's Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet were written in 1918 around the time when his technique was moving away from large scale pieces. They are linked to L'Histoire du Soldat because they were written for, and dedicated to, the amateur clarinettist and philanthropist who funded L'Histoire du Soldat. All three are compact and very aphoristic with the first almost lyrical in an expressionistic kind of way. The second is rather crazier, and virtuosic and Max Mausen gives a strong performance. The final one uses jazz-inspired syncopations to create something equally crazy but rather appealing.

Ivan Boumans (born 1983) is a composer whose father was from Luxembourg and his mother from Spain, he studied at the conservatoires in Luxembourg and in Paris. His Tryptique started out life in 2004, but spent some time in a drawer until Max Mausen's enthusiasm persuaded Ivan Boumans to finish it in 2014. Rather surprisingly, the work has a strong English rhapsody feel as Ivan Boumans was very much influenced by the British works he played as a student clarinettist. But the rhapsodic feel is combined with elements that are closer to jazz, to create a fast flowing piece with some nice spiky elements to the harmonies. The slower middle movement is still fluidly moving and has a seemingly endless clarinet melody, whilst the final movement is based on constantly busy passage-work over catchy rhythms.

The final work on the disc also dates from 2014 and is a collaboration between pianist and clarinettist, to create a jazz-inspired work with significant improvised sections. Again it has a rather rhapsodic feel and the jazz elements are quite lyrical with a strong hint of minimalism too. Starting rather low key, it develops into something quite powerful towards the end.

This disc makes a strong showcase for clarinettist Max Mausen's talents, and he is ably supported by pianist Jason Anderson. But the imaginative repertoire plus the finely sensitive and highly skilled playing mean that the disc will surely make its appeal far wider.

The disc can be bought from Max Mausen's Bandcamp page, and if you buy the CD you get the download free.

Claude Debussy - Premiere rhapsodie (1909-1910) [7.54]
Igor Stravinsky - Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet (1919) [4.05]
Ivan Boumans - Tryptique (2004-2014) [10.40]
James Anderson/Max Mausen - Walthamstow Fall (2014) [8.34]
Max Mausen (clarinet)
James Anderson (piano)

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