Notes & Reviews:
MusicWeb International, 14th October 2014
This is one of those rare discs that surprises as much as it delights... There are many great performances of these sonatas, but I cannot recall a set of such flexibility and nuance or of such generous interplay between equals. Watkins and Brown take their time. Nothing is rushed. Everything is expressive.
Gramophone Magazine, September 2014
By stretching and releasing phrases without corrupting the basic pulse, lightening or darkening notes without damaging timbres, Collins shares with his colleagues an individual impulse to the music...A penetrating interpretation.
Sunday Times, 20th July 2014
The late sonata's expansive mood and grand sonorities have made it the more popular of the two - it was a favourite of Casals. Yet the melancholy early work doesn't deserve its comparative neglect. Nor does the Clarinet Trio, as this expressive performance by three of Britain's finest musicians reminds us.
American Record Guide, November/December 2014
The all-Brahms program is highly satisfying. It begins with Sonata 1, a sad and serious work in E minor where the middle movement is a minuet, not a slow movement, and the finale a passionate Bach-infested fugue. This is followed by the Clarinet Trio. This prepares us for the Op. 99 Sonata in F that makes up for the sadness of the previous works. The playing is thoughtful and intense. This is effective. Musically these are moving readings. The interpretations are very effective otherwise, and one might well invest in it for the sake of a moving program of Brahms.
Performing Brahms's cello sonatas and Clarinet Trio, Paul Watkins here presents three enduring masterpieces of the chamber music repertoire. He is joined by two musicians of the highest calibre, the pianist Ian Brown, his established duo partner, and the clarinettist Michael Collins.
The Telegraph, 17th July 2014
Collins, Watkins and Brown play as a proper, instinctive ensemble, well tailored in phrasing, unanimous in their attack and architectural finesse, and mellifluous in their shaping of Brahms's melodic and harmonic richness.
The Clarinet Trio (Op. 114), fares much better, as the second movement really brings out the best amidst the performers, each feeding off the other and working together to bring just the right emotional undertone to the listener. This is perfect music to listen to on a rainy evening, and Mr. Collins clarinet is wonderful tonic after a long week. The third movement is similarly satisfying, the interplay between the soloists seeming effortless and sensitive.
Cello Sonata No. 2 is much the same as the first. It is well played, but there is an emotional component that is missing, which is a real shame because this particular sonata is incredibly moving when all of the musical elements come together. But it falls inexplicably short in a difficult to quantify way.
This CD was a bit of a mixed bag for me. The recording quality is wonderful, and the several pages of liner notes are informative. But (and perhaps I am being too picky here, having heard incredible Brahms performed 8 feet in front of me) with the exception of the Clarinet Trio there is something lacking. Had I not heard better in person, I would have been very pleased with this recording – as it is, it is acceptable but not heart-stopping.
Submitted on 09/01/14 by KlingonOpera
Submitted on 10/17/14 by Allen Cohen
Edward Gregson (b.1945): Dream Song; Aztec Dances; Horn Concerto; Concerto for Orchestra / Wissam Boustany, flute; Richard Watkins, horn
Bartók: The Wooden Prince; Hungarian Pictures; The Miraculous Mandarin; Concerto for Orchestra / Neeme Järvi
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons / Nigel Kennedy, violin & director; English CO [25th Anniversary Luxury Edition - CD & DVD, includes introductions to each concerto by Nigel Kennedy]
Balkan Fever - The Kristjan Jarvi Sound Project: Music of Georges Enescu and Zoltan Kodály
Fauré: Piano Quartet No. 2; Piano Trio (clarinet version); Trois romances sans paroles / Richard Hosford, clarinet; Philip Dukes, viola
Khachaturian: The Battle of Stalingrad; Othello - film score suites / Viktor Simcisko, violin; Jana Valaskova, soprano
Julius Röntgen: The Late String Trios, Nos. 13-16 / Offenburg String Trio
Peter Warlock: Choral Music / Rachel Haworth, organ; The Carice Singers
Sibelius: Suites - Pelléas et Mélisande; King Christian II; Swanwhite / Sakari, Iceland SO