Is music by women composers like the dark matter of the musical universe: influential, yet somehow undetectable by current means? Try again.
Invocation sheds light on this element, featuring works for clarinet and piano. The duo of clarinetist Kymia Kermani and pianist Alba Gentili-Tedeschi have focused on European composers, all women, most presenting (I would argue) mid-20th-century style. An exception is the first composer featured, Marie Clémence de Grandval (1823-1907), whose Deux Pièces include the title track for the disc. Apart from her importance as an established female composer in the 19th century, I don’t think hers was the strongest opening play; tuneful and sweet, a bit like Adolph Adam, but less observed; de Grandval was kind enough NOT to write Minuit Chretien.
A selection of well-performed miniatures, there are 27 separate tracks through its 58 minutes. It’s as if the composers were afflicted by modesty. I feel most compelled by the music of Holocaust escapee Ursula Mamlock’s Rückblick, in Erinnerungan die Reichspogromnacht 9. November 1938, a brief but harrowing depiction of her family’s flight from Berlin in the wake of Kristallnacht.
The tracks are linked by short interludes by Barbara Heller (b.1936). Her Luftspuren are lovely enigmatic epigrams that serve as a “promenade” between the other works.
Composition dates are absent in the jacket material, but with help from their publicist I learned Polish composer Krystyna Moszumańska-Nazar, who studied composition at the same school as Krzysztof Penderecki, quite possibly a bit earlier, was nine years his senior. Isn’t it wonderful to imagine that her clever (and also earlier) Three Miniatures for Clarinet and Piano influenced the much more celebrated man whose work of the same title was published in 1959? Now there’s some dark matter!