Andrew Rindfleisch: For Clarinet Alone

For Clarinet Alone (2009)
by Andrew Rindfleisch
Performed by Pat O’Keefe, clarinet

In a microphone-mixing-mode that is practically Glenn-Gouldish in its aggressive refinement, For Clarinet Alone offers us a record of an unusually close audio observation of a performance/piece entity that itself, in its expressive ways and means, maintains an extraordinarily intense focus on the complex details of the sounds, both public and intimate, that a clarinet makes as it’s played. Rindfleisch’s score, composed for his long-time collaborator Pat O’Keefe, is marked pianissimo all the way through, but in this recording the miking is so close that the dynamic indication results less in a decibel level than an attitude towards articulation and projection. Rindfleisch himself took an active role in the editing and mixing of this recording, which was taken with five microphones, each focused on distinct parts of the single instrument, and thus aspects such as the timbral transitions effected via mixing represent once again a collaboration, this time between performer and composer-as- sound-engineer. The successive distinctions between what happens between each pair of notes are among the most vivid features of the story here. But even more impressive is the achievement of the composer, and his performer-collaborator, who together, by way of their respective technical accomplishments, find the means to fascinate the listener while limiting themselves to such a restrained sonic surface. Although it’s in a sense of the word quite different from that in which it’s become customary to use it, this composition, its performance, and its recording, offer us a masterpiece of a sort we could still call minimalist.

Composer Andrew Rindfleisch (b. 1963) has enjoyed a career in music that has also included professional activity as a conductor, pianist, vocalist, improviser, record producer, radio show host, educator, and concert organizer. As a composer, he has produced dozens of works for the concert hall, including solo, chamber, vocal, orchestral, brass, and wind music, as well as an unusually large catalog of choral music. His committed interest in other forms of music-making has also led him to the composition and performance of jazz and related forms of improvisation.

Mr. Rindfleisch is the recipient of the Rome Prize, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Aaron Copland Award, and the Koussevitzky Foundation Fellowship from the Library of Congress. Over forty other prizes and awards have followed honoring his music. He has participated in dozens of renowned music festivals and has received residency fellowships from the Bogliasco Foundation (Italy), the Czech-American Institute in Prague, the Charles Ives Center for American Music, the June in Buffalo Contemporary Music Festival, the MacDowell Colony, and the Pierre Boulez Conductor’s Workshop at Carnegie Hall. He holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (Bachelor of Music), the New England Conservatory of Music (Master of Music), and Harvard University (PhD).

As a conductor and producer, Mr. Rindfleisch’s commitment to contemporary music culture has brought into performance and recording over 500 works by living composers over the past 20 years. He has founded several contemporary music ensembles and currently heads the Cleveland Contemporary Players Artist in Residency Series at Cleveland State University, and the Vertigo Ensemble at the Utah Arts Festival in Salt Lake City. He has made guest conducting appearances throughout the United States and abroad with many diverse musical organizations; from opera and musical theatre, to orchestral, jazz, improvisational, and contemporary avant-garde ensembles.