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It was Czech bass clarinetist Josef Horák (1931-2005) who brought recognition to the bass clarinet as a solo instrument. On 24 March 1955 he gave the world’s first bass clarinet recital, and with his free style of playing, he revolutionised people’s perception of the bass clarinet. In particular, the duo Due Boemi di Praga, which he formed with his pianist wife Emma Kovárnová (1930 – ), achieved international success and more than 600 compositions have been dedicated to them. However, due to the Czech political situation of the time, many of these works remain unknown.
A few years after his recitals, between 1972 and 1973, the Rotterdam Conservatory (Codarts) established the world’s first bass clarinet department. I entered this class in 2012 and became the last graduate when the department closed in 2016. During my time there, I studied bass clarinet from many different angles, but I was particularly fascinated by the works written for Horák, which preserve shades of the late Romantic period. These pieces are not only musically beautiful but also push the limits of expression of the bass clarinet. Although some arrangements are included, all the pieces on this album are related to Horák. This album pays tribute to his pioneering efforts to explore the possibilities of the bass clarinet and aims to raise awareness of lesser-known bass clarinet works.
Luboš Sluka – Sonata
Luboš Sluka – Tre Composizioni
Paul Hindemith: Sonata
Elena Petrovâ – Invocation
Bohuslav Martinů – Sonatine
Karel Husa – Elegie et Rondeau
Jan Vičar – Lullabies
Ken Kunita, bass clarinet
Alfonso González Martínez, piano
Ken Kunita is a Japanese cultural entrepreneur based in the Netherlands, working in the fields of classical music and IT. He is a clarinetist specializing in bass clarinet and a member of the independent makerspace Het Batavierhuis, the music publishing house Muse Press LLC, and the Japanese IT company BlueMeme Inc. This wide range of activities sets him apart from conventional musicians. In 2016, he graduated Cum Laude from the Codarts (Rotterdam Conservatory) Bachelor of Music in Bass Clarinet, and graduated with a Master of Music in Clarinet from the same conservatory in 2020. He has appeared in various performances organized by the Dutch National Opera, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mannheim Philharmonic Orchestra and others.
More information can be found at https://www.kenkunita.com
Alfonso González Martínez
Alfonso Gonzalez belongs to a generation of musicians that expand their boundaries beyond old-school interpretations and the limitations of a single field of expertise. His passion for voice and dance as the primordial source of music expression, as well as his skills in improvisation in different styles, have led him to combine his activity as vocal accompanist with dance accompaniment. Contemporary music is an important part of his artistic activity and for that reason he always grants it a special place in his repertoire. He has performed Pierrot Lunaire from A. Schoenberg with the soloists of the Orquesta de RadioTelevisión Española (ORTVE) and he has collaborated with the Joven Orquesta Nacional de España (JONDE) in the “Xornadas de música contemporánea”. He currently works as a ballet pianist at the Amsterdam Hogeschool voor de Kunst (AHK), the Nationale Ballet Academie (NBA) and the European School of Ballet (ESB).
More information can be found at https://alfonsogonzalezpiano.com