I spent the morning of February 7 at the Oktaven Studio in Mt. Vernon, NY, working with bass clarinetist Sauro Berti, PARMA Recordings session producer John Page and Oktaven engineer (and fellow Juilliard-trained composer) Ryan Streber. What a great team! They showed a truly deep understanding of the piece - the solo version, not the duo (long story, that). I was so happy to hear what came out of our work that morning.
I've written a fair amount for soprano (regular) clarinet, but never before for bass clarinet. So there's always this lingering doubt, "Is it going to sound the way I think it will?" Well, it did. Even a few passages where it really didn't sound so good in Finale playback, but I kept telling myself, "No, this will sound just right on the actual instrument," and - whew - my intuition was right. (Not taking anything away from Finale playback, which I find indispensable.) Structurally and emotionally, the piece as Sauro performed it is exactly what I had hoped it would be. Yay!
It was a bit sad not being able to record the duo version, for logistical reasons, with Mario Ciaccio on alto sax. I was at first reluctant to turn Blue Plea into a duo, since the solo, lonesome voice of the clarinet seemed essential to the work's plaintive tone. But in the writing of it I fell in love with the duo version, and I was a bit disappointed when I learned we'd be recording the solo version after all. But I shouldn't have been. They are really two different works, and I'm in love with the solo version too. Thank you Sauro and the rest of the team!