Recommended Album: CHICAGO CLARINET CLASSICS (John Bruce Yeh, Patrick Godon, & Teresa Reilly)

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by Connor McCormick on March 1, 2023


Chicago Symphony Orchestra clarinetist curates
album of intimate treasures by past and present
Windy City composers

John Bruce Yeh, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s celebrated assistant principal clarinet and solo E-flat clarinet for over 40 years, headlines a program of lyrical and engaging chamber and solo works by noteworthy Windy City composers of the past and present, including three world-premiere recordings. Available March 10, 2023 at Cedille Records.

Yeh, with Patrick Godon, the Chicago Symphony’s principal keyboardist, and freelance clarinetist Teresa Reilly, who performs with the CSO at home and on tour, presents mid-20th-century works by Alexander Tcherepnin and Leo Sowerby, a late-century work by Robert Muczynski, and recent pieces by Stacy GarropShulamit Ran, and clarinetist Reilly.

John Bruce Yeh -- photo by Todd Rosenberg

World-premiere recordings include the album’s centerpiece, Sowerby’s witty and inventive 1938 Sonata for Clarinet and Piano; Ran’s tender, heartfelt Spirit for solo B-flat Clarinet; and Reilly’s The Forgiveness Train for two clarinets, an insistently rhythmic, pandemic-fueled dreamscape about personal peril amid natural beauty. Garrop’s dramatic Phoenix Rising — a world-premiere recording of the version for clarinet — depicts the fiery death and triumphant rebirth of the Phoenix of Greek and Egyptian myth. The album opens with Tcherepnin’s vivacious Sonata in one movement for clarinet and piano. Muczynski’s Time Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, a popular repertoire staple, brings the program to a brilliant close.

Chicago Clarinet Classics was recorded by the GRAMMY Award-winning Cedille team of producer James Ginsburg and engineer Bill Maylone. Yeh’s previous Cedille Records release was the critically acclaimed, GRAMMY-nominated Liquid Melancholy: Clarinet Music of James M. StephensonThe Clarinet proclaimed, “Yeh’s performances deserve special mention for his exquisite interpretations. Yeh demonstrates exceptional facility, an even, beautiful sound throughout the registers of the instrument, and a dynamic range that retains focus and resonance from the softest whisper to the loudest outbursts.” Audiophile Audition declared it “a whopping stunner of an album,” adding, “John Bruce Yeh proves the marvel here, surely as talented as any clarinet player in the world today.”

Teresa Reilly -- photo by Todd Rosenberg

The longest-serving clarinetist in Chicago Symphony Orchestra history, Yeh joined the CSO in 1977 as bass clarinet by invitation of Georg Solti. Two years later, he was named assistant principal and E-flat clarinet. He has performed as guest principal clarinet of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, and Guangzhou Symphony and as guest bass clarinet of the Mariinsky Orchestra and Hong Kong Philharmonic. He is director and co-founder of Chicago Pro Musica, which received the 1986 Grammy Award for Best New Classical Artist.

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