Sonatas for Cello and Clarinet

Sonatas for Cello and Clarinet

Voyage with a tale to tell
Andrew Violette
Andrew Violette
Ben Capps
Moran Katz
Catalog Number: 
new classical

Brooklyn, NY

Release Date: 
Jul 31, 2012
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Composer Andrew Violette’s tenth album for innova Recordings arrives from over the broad horizon, to reveal a wealth of strange stories and images of its tumultuous voyage. At least, this is the best we can surmise. This album arrived bundled with a scrawled note from the composer himself, quoting Michelangelo and waving goodbye as he set off from the Island of Cythera. Mysterious indeed. Here see for yourself:

"Borne in a fragile boat upon a stormy sea I complete the course of my life." —Michelangelo

It is told that the cello piece describes the arc of a Drunken Boat as it roves toward breakwaters of death. It passes a funeral procession of Mournful Bells, then Glorious Bells, then a rush. There's even a surreal cha-cha in the mix. The piece careens toward the deathly key of B minor. Its heart is dark like winter light. How could the cellist have sustained this "all melody all the time," this "modern yet ethereal effect"? That he does so is a testament to his extraordinary virtuosity.

In contrast, the short, happy sonata for clarinet, set almost entirely in lyric clarino tones, seems to evoke a Magic Flute but by way of Morton Feldman. It is unknown how the clarinetist manages to sustain such long lines in a single breath.

The cello tale is passionately conveyed by the long bowing arm of Ben Capps, who is no stranger to Violette’s ways (having recorded his Songs and Dances a while back). There’s Faure, Franck, Copland and Bach behind the arras. The clarinet tale is jauntily told by Moran Katz, evidently revealing the happier side of nautical life.

Frank J Oteri of NewMusicBox has described Violette’s music as “equal parts Messiaen and prog rock, if you can imagine such a co-mingling” and further says “Violette’s new sound world is simultaneously restless and strangely comforting” and “music that is as new as it is romantic.” There’s no prog rock here but a luminous voyage is guaranteed for all who embark upon the journey.


“Andrew Violette didn't make a pact with the devil before he produced his Sonatas for Cello and Clarinet, but he may have engaged in some extra-spiritual scrimmaging on the astral plane with Ives, Messiaen and Hindemith before he penned the sonatas. … [The music] is filled with a very individual quality, and has a presence and melodic dynamic that is unforgettable. [FULL ARTICLE]
Greg Edwards

"The sonata for cello and piano … is in eight movements, each of which exists independently, yet which all develop a common idea: a melodic cello part around which a piano weaves its own independent, dissonant world. The effect is something like what you might imagine could have happened if Charles Ives had had Parisian training, or if he'd somehow continued composing after the 1920s and met up with Messiaen. This music seems at once individualistic and closely linked to traditions of the past, and it makes you want to hear more from its composer." [FULL ARTICLE]
James Manheim

"The massive cello Sonata that begins this disc is sprawling, intense and one of the most difficult things to describe that I have heard. It will also throw your stylistic compass off more than once. To listen to where this big work goes harmonically and structurally is nearly exhausting, but … worth the trip. … The Sonata works best when at its most ponderous and ominous--such as the amazing central movements (Marcia funebre, variations  1-20 and the Mournful Bells). … I think that anyone would find something to admire and to be amazed by. The complexity and duration of the cello work is something to immerse yourself in while the Sonata for Clarinet is delicate and mannered. I am anxious to learn more about this fascinating composer and more of his music!" [FULL ARTICLE]
Daniel Coombs