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British Clarinet Concertos, Vol. 1
This disc marks the beginning of a new survey of British Clarinet Concertos, featuring the exclusive Chandos artist Michael Collins, who here combines the role of soloist with that of conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Indisputably one of the leading clarinettists of his generation, Michael Collins displays a dazzling virtuosity and sensitive musicianship which have made him a sought-after soloist with orchestras including the Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France and the Philadelphia, NHK Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus, City of Birmingham Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, BBC Symphony, and Philharmonia orchestras.
In recent seasons he has won increasing regard as a conductor and in September 2010 assumed the post of Principal Conductor of the City of London Sinfonia.
Sir Charles Villiers Stanford wrote extensively for the clarinet. His works include the Sonata, recorded by Michael Collins on CHAN 10704 (and very favourably reviewed in BBC Music, see below), and the Concerto recorded here, which, coincidentally, was the first for the instrument to be composed by a major British composer. This concerto boasts an exuberantly virtuosic solo part, accompanied by an orchestra excluding clarinets, but including a brass section of four horns and two trumpets.
The Clarinet Concerto by Finzi was performed by a young Michael Collins in the final of the first BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, in 1978. The work conjures a sense of fresh spontaneity, as it moves through baroque-inspired pastoralism, Elgarian influences, and lively folk-inspired melody.
The virtuosic Clarinet Concerto No. 2 by Sir Malcolm Arnold bears the dedication: ‘for Benny Goodman with admiration and love’. It had been commissioned three years earlier by the celebrated American jazz clarinettist, who had also established a reputation as a classical performer.
“a superb showcase for Michael Collins's talents...I doubt if I've ever hear a finer version of Finzi's 1949 Concerto. The rapt, elegiac intensity of the performance of this works' slow movement, which displays Collins's tone at its most silken, even spectral, is worth the price of the disc itself.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 *****
“The orchestral playing of the BBC SO is crisp and the clarity of the recording allows one to hear a lot more of the harmonic colour and variety that is lost in some of the others. There is so much energy in the last movement, where Collins shows off not only his splendid agility but also the affecting pathos of the closing pages of the score.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013
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Stanford - Symphonies Volume 4
This final volume of the Naxos cycle of the complete Stanford Symphonies features the substantial First Symphony, whose first movement, with its spacious introduction and exposition repeat, is a remarkably broad structure. The use of stopped horns is most unusual for a symphony written in the late 1870s.
Stanford’s tuneful late romantic Clarinet Concerto has become the most frequently heard and recorded of the composer’s orchestral works.
“…a valuable contribution to the continuing Stanford revival.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2008 ****
“This is the final recording in the Naxos series of Stanford symphonies, featuring an unusual coupling of the early (but by no means juvenile) First Symphony (1876), without an opus number, and the much later Clarinet Concerto (1903). The sound of these Naxos recordings with an on-form Bournemouth SO has a nice forward quality which, for the rather luminous chamber quality of Stanford's second and third movements (especially the solo string- and wind-writing), gives great clarity to the pointillistic, almost Mendelssohnian orchestration.
As with the other three recordings, Lloyd- Jones shows a real flair for the classical architecture of Stanford's art but at the same time he responds to the underlying and inescapable passion that exudes from the scores. The first movement retains a spaciousness and verve, while the finale has an infectious rhythmical élan reminding us of its foremost influence, Schumann's Spring Symphony (in the same key).
Stanford's first (though unpublished) foray into symphonic music deserves to be better known but his Clarinet Concerto, here played by Robert Plane, is frequently given an airing. A fine work, in one continuous movement, written for Robert Mühlfeld (who never played it), it makes masterly use of the instrument's wide register and variety of timbres. Plane's interpretation of the composer's long lyrical lines (in particular the central Andante), the climactic peaks, dramatic interjections and tender pianissimi, are nothing short of exceptional in their careful grading; clearly, he has a special affinity for this music.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“…Lloyd-Jones shows a real flair for the classical architecture of Stanford's art but at the same time he responds to the underlying and inescapable passion that exudes from the scores. Stanford's… Clarinet Concerto… makes masterly use of the instrument's wide register and variety of timbres. Plane's interpretation of the composer's long lyrical lines... climactic peaks, dramatic interjections and tender pianissimi, are nothing short of exceptional in their careful grading...” Gramophone Magazine, December 2008
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The Art of Emma Johnson
Clarinet Concerto No. 1, Op. 20
Clarinet Concerto No. 2, Op. 115
Adagio in D flat for Clarinet & Strings 'Wagner's Adagio'
Clarinet Sonata in B flat (1934)
Clarinet Concertos Nos. 1, 2 & 3
Rhapsody for clarinet & piano (or orchestra), L. 116 'Première rapsodie'
Clarinet Concerto, Op. 31
Clarinet Concerto in A major, K622
Clarinet Quintet in A major, K581
Clarinet Sonata, Op. 184
Clarinet Sonata in E flat major, Op. 167
Fantasiestücke, Op. 73
Clarinet Concerto in A Minor, Op. 80
Clarinet Concertino in E flat major, Op. 26
Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 73
Clarinet Quintet in B flat major, Op. 34, J182
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