Almost All-American: 21st-Century Works for Clarinet
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New works for clarinet performed by virtuoso Christopher Nichols.

Critically acclaimed clarinetist Christopher Nichols has recorded a cd of some of his favorite individual and consortium commissioning project, which are core pieces of his repertoire. In addition to works for clarinet and piano, there is a composition for woodwind quartet and one for countertenor, clarinet, and piano. Nichols is on the faculty at the University of Delaware. He performs regularly with orchestras such as the Pennsylvania Philharmonic, the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, and the Allentown Symphony Orchestra. He has performed as a soloist at national and international conferences and in 2015, was recognized with an Established Artist Fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts. His collaborators include pianist Julie Nishimura, who is also on the faculty at the University of Delaware; countertenor Augustine Mercante, who performs to great critical acclaim; composer/pianist Jennifer Margaret Barker; and the Christiana Winds.
James M. Stephenson, composer
Clarinet Sonata
Christopher Nichols (clarinet); Julie Nishimura (piano)

Joseph Eidson, composer
Birds of Passage
Augustine Mercante (countertenor); Christopher Nichols (clarinet); Julie Nishimura (piano)

Jennifer Margaret Barker, composer
…to the pale green sea of evening
Christopher Nichols (clarinet); Jennifer Margaret Barker (piano)

Sy Brandon, composer
Divertimento for Woodwind Quartet
Eileen Grycky (flute); Jeffrey O'Donnell (oboe); Christopher Nichols (clarinet); Lynn Moncilovich (bassoon)

James M. Stephenson, composer
Bagatelle for Clarinet & Piano
Christopher Nichols (clarinet); Julie Nishimura (piano)

James M. Stephenson, composer
Fantasie for Clarinet & Piano
Christopher Nichols (clarinet); Julie Nishimura (piano)

"The Clarinettist Christopher Nichols and his musical crew (almost all from the University of Delaware) give affectionate performances of music in a conservative vein, mostly written since 2013, which Nichols calls some of his ‘favourite individual and consortium commissioning projects’ and which have become ‘core pieces of his repertoire’. AdTech Ad The programme is bookended by James M Stephenson, whose ‘Liquid Melancholy’ CD with Chicago Symphony clarinettist John Bruce Yeh received a 2019 Grammy nomination. His 20-minute Sonata explores the wonderfully mellifluous things the instrument can do, with a delightful ‘Jam Bourrée’ interlude for E flat clarinet. Stephenson’s most substantial piece is the second movement of his two-movement Fantasie, a 2015 arrangement of the composer’s original for trumpet, featuring exquisitely gentle lyrical writing for both clarinet and piano leading to a charming dialogue between the two instruments. The most lively is Sy Brandon’s Divertimento for woodwind quartet; the composer has written for Performance Today and the Animal Planet cable channel, and his three-movement Divertimento, consisting of a ‘Frolic’, ‘Ballad’ and ‘Tarantella’, is just the type of affectionately adventurous music you’d like your grandchildren to grow up and play. The most haunting is Scottish-American Jennifer Margaret Barker’s … to the pale green sea of evening, a lovely invocation of the Mediterranean colours and moods of Malta and Gozo. The most intriguing is Joseph Eidson’s Birds of Passage, set to two Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poems, one about bleak autumn and the other about the joys of Creation, particularly notable for countertenor Augustine Mercante’s lyrical intensity and the way he polishes each word with lapidarian ecstasy." (Gramophone)