May 24, 2021

  • Bach for Bass Clarinet!

    Bach: Three Cello Suites
    Joshua Ranz, bass clarinet
    Navona 6340
    Total Time:  62:10
    Recording:   ****/****
    Performance: ****/****

    There is no typo in the information above.  These are new arrangements by bass clarinetist Joshua Ranz of three of the Bach cello suites: BWV. 1007, 1008, and 1010.  Lest you wonder about this, it is worth noting that Ranz is the principal clarinetist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and film music fans will recognize his name if they check the orchestra personnel for Catch Me If You Can, Toy Story 3 & 4, La La Land, and Star Wars 7 & 9.

    There is no question regarding the musical works here being significant repertoire pieces in the cello literature.  They are essentially the pieces that can distinguish a cellist's mastery of the instrument.  As one listens to these new arrangements, it becomes clear that this could also be the case for bass clarinet players.  Ranz's tone in stunningly captured in these recordings and interpretively the performances match well with period practice--of course, on an instrument that did not even exist at the time.  As the suites move along, it is worth pondering what Bach might have done himself to create unique pieces for the instrument, but as it is these versions honor the composer's style and manage to adapt some of the specifically string technique to work well on this instrument.

    While some will stumble across this as a curiosity, it may well become a favorite guilty pleasure.  Certainly recommendable to performers of the instrument who now have something even more to aspire to from their often overlooked place in the band or orchestra.

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