Seunghee Lee, “Embrace” – music for clarinet and piano – Seunghee Lee, clar./Evan Solomon, p. – Summit

Seunghee Lee, “Embrace” – music for clarinet and piano [TrackList follows] – Seunghee Lee, clar./Evan Solomon, p. – Summit DCD577, TT: 50:26, (11/08/11) ***:

Lovely and mostly rewarding collection of “easy listening” clarinet.

Korean born Seunghee Lee is a very refined and talented artist with a pleasant tone and facile technique. There is much to admire in her playing and in looking at her training resume this is not a surprise. Lee grew up in Chicago and studied with many of the country’s great clarinetists including David Shifrin, Charles Neidich, George Silfies and John Bruce Yeh, to name but a few.

Her accompanist Evan Solomon has a similar pedigree, having accompanied violinist Sarah Chang. Solomon also has a degree in mathematics and has served on the accompanying staff of the Julliard School since 1986.

Ms. Lee has several other recordings out that I think are well worth investigating. As I said, her playing is lovely and rather “recital ready” as her tone and technique are very fine indeed and chamber music focused. This collection is made up of several short snippets of lovely and mostly non-flashy melodies from a variety of sources.

These include many easily recognized tunes such as the selections by Fauré, Grieg, Schumann and Bach as well as a couple of lesser known morsels like The Butterfly by Ilinsky. I have never, personally, been too big a fan of transcriptions and extracts from other repertoire and I do think some things are best left right “where they belong.” The idiomatic ‘must know’ clarinet solo from the Rachmaninov second Piano Concerto is one of those for me. By and large, though, this is a very pleasant album that works well as relaxing listening with these two very refined and talented people.

Her album title being taken from the Biblical Eccliastes and well as Lee’s acknowledgements to her friends and inspirations from her church groups tells me she is also a well-rounded person with involvement in other parts of her life which is admirable to me. This disc actually came out in 2011 and I would like to hear more of Seunghee, maybe in some of the mainstream clarinet repertoire.

TrackList:

1  Im wunderschönen Monat Mai   Robert Schumann
2  Sicilienne de ‘Pelléas et Mélisande’  Gabriel Faure
3  Canzonetta  Gabriel Pierné
4  Songs My Mother Sang  Antonin Dvorak
5  “Lola” from ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ Pietro Mascagni
6  Nocturne in c minor  Frédéric Chopin
7  The Butterfly  A. Ilinsky
8  Solveig’s Song  Edvard Grieg
9  Berceuse  Gabriel Faure
10  Kinderscenen  Robert Schumann
11  Adagio   Sergei Rachmaninoff
12  Danza Espanola  Enrique Granados
13  Lascia ch’io pianga  Frideric Handel
14  Melody in F  Anton Rubinstein
15  Siciliano  J.S. Bach
16  Träumerei  Robert Schumann
17  Melody from “Dance of the Blessed Spirits”  C.W. Gluck
18  Winterreise  Franz Schubert

—Daniel Coombs

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