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The Lyrical Clarinet / Michael Collins

Audio Samples

>Burgmuller, Norbert : Duo for clarinet (or violin) & piano in E flat major, Op. 15
>Finzi, Gerald [Composer] : Bagatelles (5) for clarinet & piano, Op. 23
>Baermann, Heinrich Joseph : Quintet for Clarinet and Strings no 3, Op. 23
>     Adagio
>Saint-Saëns, Camille : Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in E flat major, Op. 167
>Pärt, Arvo : Spiegel im Spiegel, for clarinet & piano
>Reade, Paul : Victorian Kitchen Garden, suite for clarinet & harp or piano
>Poulenc, Francis : Sonata for Clarinet and Piano

Album Summary

>Burgmuller, Norbert : Duo for clarinet (or violin) & piano in E flat major, Op. 15
>Finzi, Gerald [Composer] : Bagatelles (5) for clarinet & piano, Op. 23
>Baermann, Heinrich Joseph : Quintet for Clarinet and Strings no 3, Op. 23
>Saint-Saëns, Camille : Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in E flat major, Op. 167
>Pärt, Arvo : Spiegel im Spiegel, for clarinet & piano
>Reade, Paul : Victorian Kitchen Garden, suite for clarinet & harp or piano
>Poulenc, Francis : Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
Performers Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Virtuoso clarinetist Michael Collins, accompanied by Michael McHale on the piano, returns for a second volume in Chandos' series showcasing the extraordinarily wide range of music written for his instrument. The first volume, The Virtuoso Clarinet, was described by International Record Review as: '... an absolute charmer, most beautifully played... difficult to imagine a finer performance than that given here.'

"Collins plays [the Five Bagatelles] with much affection...overall I enjoyed these performances greatly." -International Record Review

"A highly engaging programme from Michael Collins, whose rare combination of tonal mellifluousness and virtuoso flair brings a satisfying unity to a wide range of styles." -Classic FM Magazine ****

"It's hard to imagine this varied programme better played than by Collins and Michael McHale. They're technically impeccable and stylistically flexible, and, aided by an unobtrusively excellent recording, they both produce some beautiful pianissimo playing." -BBC Music Magazine *****

"This disc, in all the varied items, again demonstrates the magnetism and sheer beauty of his playing, whatever the idiom...a fine recital, vividly recorded to match the inspiration of the playing." -Gramophone Magazine

Michael Collins, the virtuoso clarinetist and exclusive Chandos artist, returns for a second volume in Chandos' series showcasing the extraordinarily wide range of music written for his instrument. The first volume, The Virtuoso Clarinet (CHAN10615), was described by International Record Review as: '... an absolute charmer, most beautifully played... difficult to imagine a finer performance than that given here.'

Accompanied by Michael McHale on the piano, Collins here explores the lyrical qualities of the clarinet in a programme comprising a widely varied repertoire. One of the prime qualities of the instrument is its likeness in tone and range to the human voice, which has inspired composers to write aria- and lyric song-like pieces for it.

Baermann's Adagio in D flat perfectly illustrates the clarinet's capacity for sustained lyric melody, taking on the character of an operatic aria, the clarinet's soulful line interspersed with sudden bursts of bravura. Though once ascribed to Richard Wagner, the piece is now acknowledged as being by Baermann, widely recognised as one of the greatest clarinettists of his time.

Among the other key works on this release is Saint-Saëns's four-movement Clarinet Sonata in E flat. A very late work, it is one of three woodwind sonatas composed shortly before the composer's death in 1921. In this work too, the clarinet appears at its most lyrical, not least in the refined and songful opening theme; as quicker and more extrovert music takes centre stage, the movement exploits the full virtuoso potential of the clarinet.

The Clarinet Sonata of 1962, one of Poulenc's very last works, was dedicated to the memory of Arthur Honegger, a fellow member of the 'Groupe des Six' in the 1920s, who had died in 1955. This accounts for the intense sense of sadness and loss in the first movements. However, the finale offers relief from the sombre mood, capturing a kaleidoscope of witty, agile, and highly rhythmic ideas right up to the dramatic conclusion.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/10/2010-06/12/2010).



Reviews

Another fine recital by the clarinet master
Michael Collins has become the world's pre-eminent classical clarinet soloist. After winning the BBC young artist award, woodwind division, at the young age of sixteen, Michael debuted at Carnegie Hall at the age of twenty-two and has since been a sought after solo artist with virtually every major orchestra in the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany. In recent years he has also used his reputation and incredible mastery to commission important new works for the clarinet by John Adams, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Elliot Carter, among others. Collins also has developed a growing reputation as a conductor. He is largely seen as the name among classical clarinet soloists whose work has tended to stay in that world, compared to famous "crossover" artists, such as Benny Goodman and Richard Stoltzman. This new release, on Chandos, "The Lyrical Clarinetist" is beautiful and aptly named. Every piece in this collection is known for conventional tonality and moments, if not entirety, of simple, convincing lyrical charm. There are clarinet "standards", of course. The alternately spiky and deft Poulenc "Sonata" and the very Parisian Saint-Saens are well known to every serious player. Other works in this terrific set, such as the Gerald Finzi, "Five Bagatelles" and the Burgmuller "Duo" are not played as often but truly should be. The Baermann, once attributed to Wagner, has suffered a little over the years for some over exposure and being maybe "too" simple for a serious recital but Collins' warmth of tone and a pacing that brings out the melody without weighing it down akes it worth hearing again. I found some new finds on this disc, as well (at least they were for me). The "Spiegel im spiegel" (mirror within the mirror..) by Estonian Arvo Part is made of simple triadic chord progressions under a very simple, very beautiful scalar clarinet line. Originally for cello, the piece is trademark Part in the sense of very small, simple materials to create a sound that is almost meditative in its impact. I was taken by the "Suite from 'The Victorian Kitchen Garden'" by Paul Reade. Originally a soundtrack piece for a BBC television program, the five movements are charming bits of neo-folk material and is absolutely charming and very British. Originally written for English clarinetist Emma Johnson, Collins' brings a simple clarity of tone and completely appropriate phrasing. This whole disc is a wonderful listen, maybe over morning coffee (or tea) while sitting outside. As a clarinetist, I am constantly impressed with Michael Collins' playing and I intend to rush out and find copies of the Part and Reade works. Special compliments to pianist Michael McHale as well for demonstrating very fluid, facile technique but also being the perfect collaborator. These works all depend on symbiosis between the two players. Chandos' recording, engineering and packaging are up to their usual high standards! Highly recommended!
Submitted on 03/01/11 by Dan Coombs 
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Works Details

>Norbert Burgmüller (1810 - 1836) : Duo for clarinet (or violin) & piano in E flat major, Op. 15
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Michael McHale (Piano)
  • Notes: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/10/2010-06/12/2010)
  • Running Time: 11 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic

>Finzi, Gerald [Composer] : Bagatelles (5) for clarinet & piano, Op. 23
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Michael McHale (Piano)
  • Notes: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/10/2010-06/12/2010)
  • Running Time: 14 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Written: 1941-1943

>Baermann, Heinrich Joseph : Quintet for Clarinet and Strings no 3, Op. 23 :: Adagio
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Michael McHale (Piano)
  • Notes: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/10/2010-06/12/2010)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music

>Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921) : Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in E flat major, Op. 167
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Michael McHale (Piano)
  • Notes: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/10/2010-06/12/2010)
  • Running Time: 15 min. 52 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1921

>Arvo Pärt (1935 - ) : Spiegel im Spiegel, for clarinet & piano
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Michael McHale (Piano)
  • Notes: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/10/2010-06/12/2010)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1978

>Reade, Paul : Victorian Kitchen Garden, suite for clarinet & harp or piano
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Michael McHale (Piano)
  • Notes: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/10/2010-06/12/2010)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Poulenc, Francis : Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Michael McHale (Piano)
  • Notes: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/10/2010-06/12/2010)
  • Running Time: 13 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1962