Lori Freedman

Lori Freedman shows she can do it all, expanding the vocabulary of the clarinet family, with a controlled technique that leaves the listener breathless. The New York City Jazz Record, USA

In all its virtuosity there is also pure rawness in her performance that is loaden with her emotional energy. Vital, Netherlands

“Moderation is a fatal thing: nothing succeeds like excess.”

Oscar Wilde

In this X-world of sound the music can be purely described in superlatives: exquisite, extraordinary, exhilarating, extreme, extravagant, exigent, exposed, extended, exciting, exceptional, expansive, exacting, excelling, exceeding and exponential. In the composers’ own performance instruction the words range from “delirious, obsessive, explosive, furiously,” to “imperceptible, frail, inscrutable, incoherent.” This recording is the solo programme of The Virtuosity of Excess, an eleven-city North American Tour that I played in 2016. Just under seventy minutes in duration it features music that travels all over the limits and thresholds of the low clarinets, obscuring what is possible and what is not. With this project I wanted to discover the beauty of the extremes, exploit them and embody them in the music. The compositions are by Brian Ferneyhough, Richard Barrett, Raphaël Cendo, Paolo Perezzani, Paul Steenhuisen and me, Lori Freedman. The latter three musicians created pieces specifically in light of the theme of the programme. Several of the works include singing, one also includes playing a kick drum, and another features live electronics with immersive spatialization.

CD (CQB 1923)

  • Label: Collection QB
  • CQB 1923
  • 2019
  • UCC 771028372324
  • Total duration: 71:10
  • 125 mm × 125 mm × 6 mm
  • 35 g

On the web

Download (CQB 1923_NUM)

  • Label: Collection QB
  • CQB 1923_NUM
  • 2019
  • UCC 771028372386
  • Total duration: 71:10

About the works of this album

Each of these pieces makes use of non-standard notation. This means that much of my preparation was time spent in my studio both alone and in collaboration with the composers (by means of recording, Skype, telephone and face-to-face sessions) learning, imagining and inventing (notating) new ways of representing the sounds that we each wanted to hear. The scrutinizing work in developing performance access to this sound world, to the gestural vocabulary and to the notation systems — it all had a massive effect on the success of transmitting the music in concert. It allowed me to get inside and “underneath” the surface of the written pages that were so excessively covered with musical instruction, to bring out in each piece the vitality of the individual ideas and the resulting larger forms, and to offer a potent, vibrant and resonating delivery to the audience. The process was invaluable to me, both as a performer and as a composer — as a creative musician. Improvisation is always a part of my work in learning any programme and here was no exception. However in the specific works of The Virtuosity of Excess creative playing was not simply a tool used to develop my interpretation of the scores but was also, in the case of my own piece and that of Steenhuisen, a practical technique upon which the compositions themselves were based.



This text is unavailable in English.

Les compositeurs: Paul Steenhuisen, Paolo Perezzani, Richard Barrett, Raphaël Cendo et Brian Ferneyhough. Mes assistants de concert: Sharon Kanach, Monique Jean et James O’Callaghan. Promotion et image de couverture: Becky Kanach. Amis et public en studio: Monique Bertrand, Monique Hamelin, Jacques Derome, Colleen Ayoup, Fanny Obadia, Katje Philipp, John Heward, Sylvia Safdie, Yves Charuest, Elizabeth Millar, Craig Pedersen, Guylène de Mascureau et Jimmie Leblanc.

L’équipe de production: Joane Hétu, Jean-François Denis, Fabrizio Gilardino, Robert Langlois et Ross Murray.


Quelques commentaires recueillis lors de la tournée

This text is unavailable in English.

«Alors oui, la Virtuosité de l’excès est à la hauteur de ses prétentions: on y entend des excès de calme, des excès de bruit, des excès de structure, des excès de discipline, des excès d’indulgence postmoderne et, dans le meilleur sens qui soit, des excès de Lori Freedman.»

Tom Beedham, Exclaim!, 16 octobre 2015

«Bonjour Lori,

Je peux penser aux quelques événements artistiques qui m’ont réellement fait sentir privilégié et honoré d’y assister; ces événements comptent parmi les moments les plus importants de ma vie, rien de moins. Et hier soir était indéniablement l’un de ces moments; un banquet riche en sons, en idées et en esprit, et toute une performance physique digne d’une olympienne. Après la pièce de Ferneyhough, je me disais: “Que peut-on faire de plus après ça? C’était sûrement le point culminant”, mais j’oubliais le potentiel, particulièrement, de ta propre musique. Withwhatbecomes était d’une intimité désarmante et a su rassembler l’auditoire, rapprochant tous les spectateurs (je pouvais le sentir) toujours davantage. Un peu de magie glissée dans l’excès, tout ce jeu éblouissant. Je suis très fier, un peu dévasté, rempli d’amour et d’émerveillement.


Scott Thomson, compositeur, interprète, blogueur de Montréal, 24 mars 2016

«Chère Lori,

Bravo pour le très bon concert! Tu es magnifique et inspirante. Ta virtuosité n’est pas simplement technique, elle est pleine de vie!»

Gabriel Dharmoo, compositeur, interprète, Montréal, 24 mars 2016

«… un superbe programme et une performance brillante… la pièce de Barrett en particulier m’a donné la chair de poule, Lori Freedman et les contemplations existentielles… prophétique, spectaculaire.»

Robert Ablenas, mélomane, Vancouver, 10 mars 2016

«… jeu spectaculaire… tout simplement brillant…»

Laiwan Chung, artiste, poète, musicienne, Vancouver, 10 mars 2016

«J’ai quand même réussi à rentrer à la maison. Merci pour l’intensité. Bravo pour le talent. Une extraordinaire soirée musicale. Une légende… Vivante!»

Robert Dupuy, informaticien, musicien, Montréal, 10 mars 2016

«La concertiste a pris l’œuvre (Interference) à bras le corps avec une présence sur scène hyper forte. Vlan dans la face et les oreilles! La grosse caisse et la voix nous font sursauter, le rythme endiablé se maintiendra presque tout au long de cette heure. Nous étions secoués en partant!»

Monique Hamelin, mélomane, Montréal, 30 mars 2016

Some recommended items
In the press


Dolf Mulder, Vital, no. 1181, April 29, 2019

Lori Freedman is a very profiled Montréal-based clarinettist, improviser and performer of contemporary composed material, by others as well by her own hand. She worked over the years with diverse composers and performers like Maurice Kagel, Joëlle Léandre, Ab Baars, etc. Excess is her latest recording and documents her solo program The Virtuosity of Excess and has Freedman performing six compositions by Richard Barrett, Brian Ferneyhough, Paul Steenhuisen, Paolo Perezzani, Raphaël Cendo and one by herself. In 2016 she toured eleven cities in North America, and I guess the recording took place afterwards. Besides bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet, freedman plays kick drum, electronics and voice. Thematically this turns is about excess: ‘With this project, I wanted to discover the beauty of the extremes, exploit them and embody them in the music’, Freedman explains. With these, she is pushing the limits of what is possible on the low clarinets. In all its virtuosity there is also pure rawness in her performance that is loaden with her emotional energy. By far the oldest composition is Time and Motion Study I composed in 1977 by New Complexity composer Brian Ferneyhough. Maybe most close the theme of excess is the opening work Interference composed by Richard Barrett in 2000. This work starts with very expressive vocals by Freedman screaming, growling and shrieking, that after a while a changed for equally growling, etc. playing of the contrabass clarinet, supplemented with some kick drum. Also, the closing work Décombres by Raphaël Cendo is a very dramatic and extravagant work for contrabass clarinet and disturbing electronic noise. Her own composition Withwhatbecomes (2016) is in contrast with the above-mentioned works in the sense that we stay more in calm and quiet regions of the contrabass clarinet, with parts that are almost of a lyrical nature.

In all its virtuosity there is also pure rawness in her performance that is loaden with her emotional energy.

AMN Review

Daniel Barbiero, Avant Music News, April 1, 2019

Lori Freedman’s Excess furnishes exactly what its title promises: a program of music for bass and contrabass clarinets that pushes instrumentalism to its outer edges. Freedman, originally from Toronto but now based in Montréal, is known as an improviser as well as a composer and performer of new work; it is in this latter capacity that she appears on Excess, some of whose works were written for her. Each embodies the notion of excess in its own way, whether in the quick shifts over extremes of register and dynamics of Brian Ferneyhough’s Time and Motion Study I (1977), or in the expressive excess of Richard Barrett’s Interference (2000) for contrabass clarinet, voice and kick drum. In opening the recording with the confrontational sounds of Interference, Freedman seems to throw down a challenge to the listener to stay with the recording and hear her out. Persistence will be rewarded. Paul Steenhuisen’s 2015 composition Library of Fire, for bass clarinet, was composed for Freedman and alludes directly to her skills as an improviser: the piece was created out of transcriptions of some of her recorded improvised performances. The growls, shrieks and half-articulated, half-breathy sounds of Paolo Perezzani’s Thymos (2014), for contrabass clarinet capture the emotional immediacy and drive of the ancient Greek concept of the thumos, that human faculty thought to be responsible for prodding a person to take up a challenge and grapple with it in a spirited way. As to Freedman’s challenge to the listener, this virtuoso set shows it to be something worth meeting.

… this virtuoso set shows it to be something worth meeting.


Stuart Broomer, The WholeNote, March 27, 2019

On Excess, distinguished Montréal-based clarinetist Lori Freedman presses the boundaries of contemporary musical discourse, challenging the clarinet’s, the individual composer’s and her own expressive depths. Pressing a point, she focuses on bass and contrabass clarinet, perhaps the most vocal of orchestral instruments, with every pitch ready to bend and break, a spray of overtones seemingly ever at the ready. Oh, yes, she challenges the listener as well.

The program is bracketed by its most radical and expansive adventures. British composer Richard Barrett’s Interference requires the performer to sing over a four-octave range and play a kick-drum as well as turn in a virtuosic explosion of wild burbling lines from the contrabass clarinet. It’s shamanic work, an invocation of spirits, a depth of expression that tests the limits of performance. At the opposite end of the CD, there’s French composer Raphaël Cendo’s Décombres, a work of “saturation” that fills the sound space with roaring contrabass clarinet and abrasive electronics.

In between, Freedman reaches back to Brian Ferneyhough’s daunting Time and Motion Study I (1977) and explores three recent pieces. Freedman worked closely with Vancouverite Paul Steenhuisen on Library on Fire and Paolo Perezzani on Thymos, the former mixing vocal sounds with bass clarinet, the latter the sonic potential of the contrabass, elephants and all. It’s her own Withwhatbecomes that’s most remarkable: almost unvoiced, it’s filled with the quietest, most fleeting, evanescent sounds, more challenging in its own way than anything else here.

On Excess, distinguished Montréal-based clarinetist Lori Freedman presses the boundaries of contemporary musical discourse, challenging the clarinet’s, the individual composer’s and her own expressive depths.