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In the field of classical music, France has produced several prominent romantic composers, while folk and popular music have seen the rise of the chanson and cabaret style.   The earliest known sound recording device in the world, the phonautograph, was patented in France by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in 1857.   France is also the 5th largest market by value in the world, and its music industry has produced many internationally renowned artists.

(Recorded Live) – Première Arabesque – Clarinet & Piano

Claude Debussy - Magnifique, arr. by Alfred Piguet

Although quite an early work, the arabesque contain hints of Debussy's developing musical style.   The suite is one of the very early impressionistic pieces of music, following the French visual art form.   Debussy seems to wander through modes and keys, and achieves evocative scenes through music.   His view of a musical arabesque was a line curved in accordance with nature, and with his music he mirrored the celebrations of shapes in nature made by the Art Nouveau artists of the time.   Of the arabesque in baroque music, he wrote: “That was the age of the ‘wonderful arabesque' when music was subject to the laws of beauty inscribed in the movements of Nature herself.”

(Recorded Live) – The Girl with the Flaxen Hair – Clarinet & Piano

Claude Debussy - Magnifique

La fille aux cheveux de lin (French): is a musical composition for solo piano by French composer Claude Debussy.   It is the eighth piece in the composer's first book of Préludes, written between late 1909 and early 1910..   The title is in French and translates roughly to "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair"..   The piece is 39 measures long and takes approximately two and a half minutes to play and arranged for Clarinet & Piano.

(NPR) Public Radio (Live Broadcast) – The French Connection

With some of the “Greatest French Composers”

The Genius of France: This is a musical survey of the brilliance and range of French composers and other renowned composers who lived and worked in France.  The great works by these celebrated composers during this period were the cradle of modern music!

(Recorded Live) - Moonlight – Clair de lune (Images)

Claude Debussy - Magnifique

Poetry in music - The original title of Clair de Lune was actually Promenade sentimentale (Sentimental stroll), after a different Verlaine poem from an 1866 collection called Paysages tristes (Sad Landscapes).  This poem is more likely to have been the inspiration for the music. The poem begins: “Le couchant dardait ses rayons suprêmes Et le vent berçait les nénuphars blêmes” (The setting sun cast its final rays and the breeze rocked the pale water lilies).

(Recorded Live) - Premier rhapsodie (Images)

Claude Debussy - Magnifique

The Première rhapsodie - First Rhapsody by Claude Debussy is a piece for accompanied clarinet.  Composed between December 1909 and January 1910, it was dedicated to the French clarinet professor Prosper Mimart.  In 1909, Gabriel Fauré, Director of the Paris Conservatoire, named Debussy to its board of directors (le Conseil Supérieur).  One of Debussy's first duties was to supply two works for the next year's clarinet examinations.
The Rhapsodie was first performed as part of the examinations on July 14, 1910.  The original composition was for clarinet and piano; Debussy published his own orchestration of the accompaniment in 1911, after the official premiere with Mimart.

(Recorded Live) – Solo de Concours (Images)

André Messager - Magnifique

Paris Conservatoire Contest piece – Written in 1899, French composer André Messager composed this virtuosic piece as a Paris Conservatory Contest Piece.  There are countless Solo de Concours written for clarinet, as each year the Paris Conservatory (formed in 1795) would hold these contests and award various prizes to the winners.  Each Solo de Concours was written to display virtuosity, character, and style.  Messager’s Solo de Concours was no exception.

Poulenc Sonata – (Live Performance)

With some of the “Greatest French Composers”

The Poulenc Sonata is in three movements, Opus 184:
   1. Allegro tristamente (Allegretto - Très calme - Tempo allegretto)
   2. Romanza (Très calme)
   3. Allegro con fuoco (Très animé)
One of Poulenc's earliest sonatas, he referred to it as an "entertainment" and later revised it in 1945.  The work is brief, with two fast movements bookending a slow middle movement that features the first clarinet player in solo role with the second clarinet taking an accompaniment role with an ostinato.

Guisganderie - (Live Performance)

Maurice Jeanjean - Magnifique

Maurice Jeanjean (1897-1968) was a French musician (alto saxophone, clarinet) (film) composer and arranger.  Jeanjean came from a family of musicians; his father Paul (1874-1928) and his brother Faustin (1900-1979) were musicians and composers.  As an arranger, he served the end of the 1910’s in performances of operas Livret de Clairsville, Chivot et Duru (1872) and La fille de Madame Angot.  In 1934 he worked in Paris in the orchestra of Léon Kartun where 1934 musicians like Stephane Grappelli, Gaston Lapeyronnie and Michel Warlop.

Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring – (Live Performance)

J.S. Bach - Magnifique

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (or simply "Joy") is the most common English title of a piece of music derived from a chorale setting of the cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 ("Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life"), composed by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1723.  The same music on different stanzas of a chorale closes both parts of the cantata.

Reflets Dans L’eau – (Live Performance)

Claude Debussy - Magnifique

Claude Debussy's Reflets dans l'eau ("Reflections in the Water") is the first of three piano pieces from his first volume of Images, which are frequently performed separately.  It was written in 1905.  As with much of Debussy's work, it is referred to as Impressionistic, meaning that it expresses emotions and senses by making use of non-functional harmony and ambiguous key signatures, its tonality being mainly non-diatonic and usually having a sense of modality.

Fantasie for Clarinet in Bb – (Live Performance)

Jörg Widmann - Magnifique

"'Fantasie' for solo clarinet is my first real piece for my own instrument, the clarinet.  With its eccentric virtuosity and its cheerful, ironic fundamental character, it reflects the experience with Stravinsky's 3 Pieces for solo clarinet of 1919 and the tonal innovations which did not appear in music before Carl Maria von Weber's notation for the clarinet, and takes them further in a new way.  It is a little imaginary scene uniting the dialogues of different people in close proximity in the spirit of the commedia dell'arte."

- Jörg Widmann

Capturing your Performance with Confidence

Harmony Creek Studio was born from founder Matthew Hanna’s passion for symphonic and chamber music. His education has included private study with Dr. Robert Chesebro at Furman University as well as over 20 years of clarinet performance. He has performed as Principal Clarinet in several local orchestras including the Brevard Philharmonic, Carolina Pops, Foothills Philharmonic and GAMAC. He is also a founding member of the Papageno Woodwind Quintet and performs as a singer and clarinetist on the front line of the famous Foothills Oompah Band.

Contact Matthew Hanna at Harmony Creek Studio for your next live recording.

Harmony Creek Studio

Harmony Creek Studio

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