Clarinetist Carol Robinson had the unique opportunity to work directly with Giacinto Scelsi on his music: "I discovered this music in 1981. Captivated, I began including pieces in concerts the following year. A friend of the composer who attended a concert gave him a recording of my performance. As a result, Scelsi invited me to Rome. In his apartment overlooking the Roman forum... On numerous occasions we worked in detail on all his music for clarinet, an instrument particularly important for him... We often worked until late in the night, to reach that moment when the music became more accessible... After having played this music for many years, I feel ever closer to the sources of these sounds, and yet at the same time, I am constantly gaining new insight."
Though virtuosic in the ordinary sense of the term, the true difficulty of the music lies on another plane. In addition to playing the text accurately, the performer must strive to produce vibrations which take on another dimension.
This recording presents pieces for woodwind instruments played solo or in duo. The majority date from the 50's, when Scelsi abandoned his classical and 12-tone training to undertake a relentless and solitary quest toward the interior of musical sound. The listener will notice elements such as conflicting harmonic centers, sustained notes, brief frenetic passages, tempo changes by section, and tremoli, that are reinforced by constant dynamic activity, to create a characteristically heady, non-static quality.
Scelsi preferred that his music be played by women, finding them generally more supple and less encumbered by competitive exhibitionism than male performers. Robinson, born in the U.S., studied with clarinetist Michel Portal in Paris, where she currently lives. Equally at ease in the classical and experimental realms, she specializes in chamber and contemporary music. Her superb partners are Cathy Milliken (a founding member of Ensemble Modern) and Clara Novakova (principal flutist of the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris and member of Ensemble Entretemps).