Jazz clarinet and piano at Reading University

by Gillian Tunley.

Reading University treated us to an inspirational and uplifting lunchtime musical feast infused with Italianate passion on Wednesday 1 June.

We were privileged to hear the luminous Luca Luciano on clarinet in perfect partnership with the vibrant Paolo Losi on pianoforte. The programme focussed on contemporary music from the 20th and 21st century. It was informed by Luciano’s research on extended and challenging techniques and new music for clarinet solo. He included his own compositions and arrangements, inspired by Western European tradition and his colourful Neopolitan heritage.

We were enticed into the programme with a divinely expressive rendition of ‘She Likes Vivaldi’ for solo clarinet, from Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’, arranged by Luciano. This segued seamlessly into Sonata #2 ‘Stellare’, composed by Luciano, by turns soulfully mellow and sweet, swooping and soaring effortlessly.

‘No Compromises’, another original composition, was by contrast spiky and percussive in the piano introduction, with the clarinet weaving smoothly and melodically around Paolo Losi’s accompaniment. The hushed middle section was contemplative and reflective, then soaring rapturously, building into a dissonant and arresting sequence followed by a lyrical piano solo and joined by clarinet in a tranquil resolution.

The familiar and well-loved ‘September Song’ by Kurt Weill was jaunty and rhythmic, with sultry jazz undertones and breathtaking cadenzas, combined with such sweetness, culminating in a coquettish discord.

Luciano’s composition ‘Sonata #5’ followed. It was introduced by a breathy ascending scale, searching and reflective, at times melancholic against Losi’s fresh and sympathetic accompaniment.

The finale came all too soon with a playful and tangoesque rendition of Luciano’s arrangement of ‘Fellini in London.’ It was smoky and evocative, contrasting with vivid soprano overtones and trills, offset by an understated and empathic accompaniment, culminating in a jazzy tango sequence and a virtuoso final trill.

Luciano and Losi took pity on their adoring audience and treated them to an energetic yet diminutive encore, a ‘Prelude for Clarinet’ by Stravinsky.

The concert was dedicated to the memory of Bill Gulliver, an avid supporter of lunchtime concerts and music at the university.


  1. Luca Luciano
  2. Paolo Losi
  3. Making music at Reading University
  4. Events at Reading University
  5. Luca Luciano on youtube