Album Recording

My favorite clarinetist, Maiko Sasaki and I have been recording an album: “100 Years: Early Beethoven and Late Brahms, Op. 2-1 (1795) vs. Op. 120 (1894)” at Wire Road Studio in Houston, TX and recording engineer, Andy Bradly.

Playing for an audience, and playing to be recorded are very, very different. With an audience to play for, music becomes communicative and interactive. Here is a clip from my performance of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 at the Asia Society Texas Center on March 23, this year. I’d asked the audience members to participate in the music making, as they did in Liszt’s time.

ROCO at its best: audience participation, high artistry and humor.

Posted by Alecia Lawyer on Friday, March 24, 2017

In a recording studio without the audience, however, it’s just you and the music. You are constantly evaluating your own performance to see if the current take is perfect enough to keep going, or to call for a “cut”. It is a challenging process of self-criticism, but I have tasked myself with an album recording basically every two years since 2001, because it is one of the best ways I know to know yourself and improve.

This album will be my seventh, and the very first to collaborate on two of the three pieces to record with another artist. “Clarinet Sonata”, it is often referred to – but the official title that Brahms gave his Op. 120 is “Sonatas for Piano and Clarinet”. In the nineteenth-century, pianists called their collaborators “accompanists”, not the other way around. Having that in mind, Maiko and I have reevaluated the conventional interpretation of these Sonatas, and have come up with our own unique take on these Sonatas.

We will have one more session next week, and it’ll be released by the beginning of June.

But tomorrow, I’ll get a little break from this deep self-reevaluation, and get to perform!

At noon, as a part of the Crain Garden Performance Series at the Houston Methodist Hospital, I will play Beethoven’s Sonata No. 1, Op.2-1, Chopin’s “Heroic” Polonaise, and Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz. Admission is free – all are welcome!