ICE Clarinetist and Program Director Joshua Rubin releases his debut album with several works for clarinet and electronics, including premieres by Mario Davidovsky, Olly Wilson, and Mario Diaz de Leon.
|01||The Soul Is the Arena|
The Soul Is the Arena
|02||Synchronisms No. 12|
Synchronisms No. 12
|03||Ma Dentro Dove (Suzanne Farrin)|
Ma Dentro Dove (Suzanne Farrin)
|04||Salto Cuántico (Ignacio Baca-Lobera)|
Salto Cuántico (Ignacio Baca-Lobera)
|06||Echoes (Olly Wilson)|
Echoes (Olly Wilson)
On There Never is No Light, ICE clarinetist and program director Joshua Rubin presents several works for clarinet and electronics that explore the dynamic world of electro acoustic music over the last forty years. From Suzanne Farrin's timbally explorative Ma Dentro Dove, performed with the clarinetist activating vibrating strings by playing underneath an open piano lid, to the premiere recording of seminal composer Mario Davidovsky's Synchronisms #12, the last in his genre defining series of works for live instrument and tape, this recording lifts sound away from the constraints of acoustic or electronic perception and assesses it on its own terms. There Never is No Light also includes a guest spot by ICE pianist Cory Smythe, and a premiere by longtime ICE collaborator, Mario Diaz de Leon. Iconic composers Ignacio Baca de Lobera and Olly Wilson are also represented on this unique and penetrating recording of the avant garde clarinet repertoire.
clarinet and bass clarinet
piano, track 3
1, 2, 4 and 6 Oktaven Audio by Ryan Streber (Oktaven Audio)
3 SUNY Purchase, by Silas Brown (Legacy Sound)
5 Astoria Soundsmythe Studios, by Joshua Rubin (This Room)
2 Dan Lippel
5 Ross Karre
Mastering and mixing
Thomas Locke Hobbs (front and inside back covers)
Carl Gunhouse (inside front and back covers, disc)
To Allison Lyman for inspiring me to do all of this; to the composers featured and particularly to Olly Wilson and Mario Davidovsky; to my parents; to John Zorn; to Jeremiah Cymerman; to
New Focus Recordings; to ICE for commissioning The Soul is The Arena; to the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center for the support of Suzanne Farrin’s work.
Joshua Rubin is a founding clarinetist and the co-Artistic Director of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), where he oversees the creative direction of more than sixty concerts per season in the United States and abroad. As a clarinetist, the New York Times has praised him as, "incapable of playing an inexpressive note."
Joshua has worked closely with many of the prominent composers of our time, including George Crumb, David Lang, John Adams, George Lewis, Philippe Hurel, Kaija Saariaho, John Zorn, Magnus Lindberg, Steve Lehman, Nathan Davis, Tyshawn Sorey, John Zorn, and Mario Davidovsky. His interest in electronic music throughout his career has led him work on making these technologies easier to use for both composers and performers. Joshua can be heard on recordings from the Nonesuch, Kairos, New Focus, Mode, Cedille, Naxos, Bridge, New Amsterdam, and Tzadiklabels. His album "There Never is No Light," available on ICE's Tundra label, highlights music that uses technology to capture the human engagement of the performer and the listener.
In the past season he has been featured as a soloist with the Seattle Symphony (under Ludovic Morlot) and at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, in engagements with the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and has given solo performances of new music in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, São Paulo, Rome and Berlin.
He received degrees in Biology and Clarinet from Oberlin College and Conservatory, and his Master's degree from the Mannes College of Music. His clarinet studies were mentored by Lawrence McDonald, Mark Nuccio and Yehuda Gilad.
Joshua Rubin, a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble, offers a fascinating range of electro-acoustic pieces on his solo debut, plying his winsome clarinet and rumbustious bass clarinet against moody synthesizer chords, squelchy outbursts, cavernous echoes and, on one spontaneously created duet, Cory Smythe’s icy piano. The sounds and moods are many and varied, but Mr. Rubin’s eloquent advocacy is a constant.
On There Never is No Light, International Contemporary Ensemble’s clarinetist Joshua Rubin presents a program of new music for clarinet, bass clarinet, and electronics by a diverse group of composers, both elder statesman and those of the thirty/forty-something generation. The Soul is the Arena, a piece for bass clarinet and electronics by Mario Diaz de Leon, crackles with incendiary energy, its synthetic photon bursts offset by growling multiphonics and Eric Dolphy style wails. Rubin also nets the premiere recording of Mario Davidovsky’s Synchronism No. 12, for clarinet and synthesized sounds. As with all of Davidovsky’s Synchronisms, coordination is key. Rubin’s rhythms are spot-on and his responsive playing creates an animated colloquy with the electronics.
Suzanne Farrin’s Ma Dentro Dove, for clarinet and resonating body, is a reverberant meditation rife with trills, repeated notes, and angular melody. Salto Cuántico, a work by Ignacio Baca Lobera for prepared clarinet and electronics, juxtaposes bumptious riffs and altissimo cries with percussive interjections and cascading crescendos of electronic sound. Cory Smythe’s Toast includes piano as well as electronics and has an avant-jazz cast that alternates with Webernian post-tonal melodies. Upon hearing it, one is impressed with Rubin’s seamless maneuvering between styles and playing demeanors.
The album closes with Olly Wilson’s 1974 work Echoes. While very much a period piece, technologically speaking, it is nearly as successful as the Synchronisms at providing the illusion of a dialogue between the tape and performer. Rubin again provides an animated performance that furthers this impression. Excellently performed and thoughtfully curated, There Never is No Light is a fine recording.
- Christian Carey
Contemporary clarinetist Joshua Rubin, a founding member of the New York-Chicago based International Contemporary Ensemble, here pursues a solo album with electronics assisted by versatile New York pianist Cory Smythe.
At the beginning of the liner notes, Rubin explains the title and purpose: "In 1966, during his early light experiments in Santa Monica, the artist James Turrell remarked that, no matter how much the room was darkened by curtains and tape, 'there is never no light.' This strikes me not as an environmental phenomenon, but a human one that brings perceptual challenges. Just as the eye will adjust to find light in a Turrell environment, the performer and audience are in a constant state of recognizing sound. These works place humans as the creators of their sonic experience, not mere listeners."
This is disappointing to hear because Rubin has the tools to make music an emotional experience as well. When not distorting his tone at the request of the composer, he plays with nice clarity and phrasing, and he deftly handles the program's technical obstacles, including some difficult multiphonics. Smythe, too, is solid in his brief appearances. The scores, though, all seem like a wasteland of noise and abstract nonsense.