Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom’s music embodies true theatrical flair, orchestral prowess, tunefulness and virtuosity. His sense of gravitas is balanced by a satirical and biting sense of humor. His music is at once brash, elegant and driven by a natural groove that is unique.
William Bolcom’s music is relentlessly American. His knowledge and love of American culture’s vast eclecticism, from its earthy roots to a love of classical and modern styles make him one of America’s most important compositional voices. He is also a composer who understands how to write truly great vocal music. These vocal elements are evident in his Clarinet Concerto, played brilliantly by Richard Stoltzman. The beauty of the second movement is especially worth noting, for it is a timeless and enduring piece of music.
Commedia, one of Mr. Bolcom’s most popular works, has received more than 1,000 performances.
The Duke, Swee’ pea, and Me was created for Richard Stoltzman by the great composer and arranger Clare Fischer. For years, Mr. Stoltzman had been inspired by Fischer’s beautiful harmonic language and the lyric quality of his writing. He asked Clare to take some of his favorite tunes of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, nicknamed "Swee’ pea" and turn them into a symphonic tone poem for the clarinet.
Richard Stoltzman’s virtuosity, musicianship and sheer personal magnetism have made him one of today’s most sought-after concert artists. As soloist with over a hundred orchestras, a captivating recitalist, an innovative jazz artist and a prolific recording artist, this two-time Grammy Award winner has defied categorization, dazzling critics and audiences alike throughout many musical genres.
"... A CD to chase away the gloom."
Martin Anderson - International Record Review - October 2011
"A summer festival atmosphere permeates this album...There is the boisterous ragtime of William Balcom’s Ragomania overture, set against the luscious lyricism of his clarinet concerto and the delicate humour of his Commedia ..." ****
Phillip Sommerich - Classical Music Magazine - 2 July 2011