David Krakauer: The Wizard of the 21st Century Unbridled Clarinet as Soloist with Symphony Orchestra
Only a select few artists have the ability to convey their message to the back row, and galvanize an audience with a visceral power that connects on a universal level. David Krakauer is such an artist. Put aside anything that you think you might know about the clarinet. In fact, Krakauer has created his own immediately identifiable voice on the instrument, that communicates the soul of the music directly to the hearts and minds of his audience.
Wlad Marhulets, Winner - 2016 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music
Concerto for Klezmer Clarinet (2008)
Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Steven Mercurio, conductor
September 18, 2017
Smetana Hall, Municipal House, Prague, CZ
Video by David Merrill
Widely considered to be one of the greatest clarinetists on the planet, Grammy-nominated artist David Krakauer has emerged during the last decade as an electrifying symphonic soloist who brings his singular sound and powerful approach to the concert stage with a totally unique repertoire. In a typical performance as soloist with orchestra, Krakauer takes the audience on a journey moving from his own arrangement of a traditional klezmer tune (that invites the musicians to “improvise” along with him), to Osvaldo Golijov’s astounding treatment of an overwhelmingly plaintive prayer melody, to a quirky and magical Danny Elfman-influenced concerto all the way to an insane circular breathing solo that leads right into a boisterous, foot stomping folk tune that drives the audience into a frenzied standing ovation. That’s an example of the Krakauer experience!
For the past 25 years David Krakauer has been praised internationally as a key innovator in modern klezmer as well as a major voice in classical music. In 2015 he received both a Grammy nomination in the Chamber music/small ensemble category as soloist with the conductorless orchestra “A Far Cry“, and a Juno nomination for the CD “Akoka” with cellist Matt Haimovitz. Highlights of Krakauer’s lauded career include performances with the Kronos, Emerson, Tokyo, Orion and Miro String Quartets; performing during the inaugural season of Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall with renowned jazz pianist Uri Caine; an eight-year tenure with the Naumburg Award-winning Aspen Wind Quintet and performing in the International Emmy Award-winning BBC documentary Holocaust, A Music Memorial from Auschwitz. He has appeared with the world’s finest orchestras including the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Baltimore Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, the Weimar Staatskapelle, the Orchestre de Lyon, the Phoenix Symphony, the Dresdener Philharmonie, and the Seattle Symphony.
Krakauer’s discography contains some of the most important clarinet recordings of recent decades. Among them are The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind (Osvaldo Golijov and the Kronos Quartet/Nonesuch) which received the Diapason D’Or in France. The Twelve Tribes (Label Bleu) which was designated album of the year in the jazz category for the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, and Paul Moravec’s Pulitzer Prize-winning composition Tempest Fantasy (Naxos). He has also recorded with violinist Itzhak Perlman/ the Klezmatics (Angel) and Dawn Upshaw/ Osvaldo Golijov (Deutsche Gramophon). His unique sound can be heard in Danny Elfman’s score for the Ang Lee film Taking Woodstock and throughout Sally Potter’s The Tango Lesson. New releases include his 2015 album Checkpoint with his band Ancestral Groove (Label Bleu), Paul Moravec’s Clarinet Concerto with The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP sound) and The Big Picture on his own label, Table Pounding Records in 2014.
“Krakauer played with astounding virtuosity and charisma. A furiously improvised cadenza leapt between low and high registers in a way that suggested John Coltrane, building to an excited peak. After the concerto he also offered an encore, improvising by himself with an air of ritual, before playing a swift klezmer dance with the orchestra.”- Writer Mark Stryker hinted at the visceral nature of Krakauer’s performance with The Detroit Symphony in his Detroit Free Press review.