Béatrice Berne and Jean-Marc Fessard, French Clarinet Exports

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18177/sym.2020.60.rev.11462

Damon Sink

French Clarinet ExportsFrench Clarinet Exports. 2016. Béatrice Berne and Jean-Marc Fessard, clarinets. London: Clarinet and Saxophone Classics CC071. With free downloadable booklet. Contents: G. Connesson: Scènes de la vie contemporaine; B. Cavanna: Parking Schubert; I. Bellocq: Impasse; J. Jouve: Musica Elfica, Erratica, Fuggitiva; C. Mennesson: Infinite breathing 5; L. Guérinel: Humeurs; P. Hersant: 10 Duos; T. Escaich: Ground VI. 27 tracks (71:17.27). https://samekmusic.com/shop/french-clarinet-exports. CD and full MP3 download, £6.50

This remarkable CD contains eight premier recordings of new French works for two clarinets, all composed between 2012-2016. To create a CD of clarinet duos that reaches beyond the simple goal of cataloguing a repertoire and successfully creates a wonderful recording that any audiophile would embrace is most impressive. Berne and Fessard accomplish this by programming repertoire that utilizes not only the more common Bb/A soprano clarinet, but also the higher pitched Eb clarinet and lower pitched Bass clarinet for a variety of combinations that result in a wonderful collection of sonority possibilities. The CD’s success is further attributed to Berne and Fessard’s ability to navigate the technical and delicate demands of this quite challenging repertoire in a heroic fashion. They display impressive individual and ensemble playing and complement each other’s artistry with extreme attention to detail, in a manner not often heard. The rich colors, dynamic landscapes, rhythmic grooves, contemporary playing techniques, intricate technical passage work, and musical artistry they achieve is to be commended. It is rare for a duo recording to reach this measure. Two composition and performance highlights include Christine Menneson’s “Infinite Breathing 5,” and Bernard Cavanna’s “Parking Schubert.”

Both clarinetists have recorded extensively and have championed new music throughout their careers. Since 1996, Beatrice Berne has been a tenured professor at the National Conservatory of the Region of Clermont-Ferrand. A soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician, she is passionate about contemporary music and has created arrangements, compositions and concert programs. To date, she has recorded some 20 CDs. Jean-Marc Fessard is an internationally known soloist and chamber musician and has won numerous prestigious competitions including first place in the Concours d’Interprétation Jacques Lancelot. He has recorded some 30 CDs.

It is worthy to note that three of the eight works by Christine Mennesson, Jean-Marc Jouve and Lucien Guérinel, were commissioned by The Kaïros Association, which Berne directs. Informative program notes, many provided by the composers, are included in the liner notes and include website addresses for further background and additional clarinet repertoire.

More information about the performers can be found on their websites: www.jeanmarcfessard.com and www.beatrice-berne.com.

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Last modified on Monday, 11/05/2020

Anthony J. Costa

Anthony J. Costa is Associate Professor of Clarinet at Penn State and a member of the Pennsylvania Quintet and Prestige Clarinet Quartet. He serves as principal clarinetist with the Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra and Penn’s Woods Music Festival Orchestra; and is an artist-clinician for the Buffet-Crampon Corp. 

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