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Virtuoso Clarinet / Michael Collins

Audio Samples

>Giampieri, Alamiro : Carnival of Venice, capriccio variations for clarinet & orchestra in B flat
>Messager, Andre : Solo de concours for clarinet & piano
>Milhaud, Darius : Scaramouche (3), suite for clarinet & orchestra (or piano), Op. 165d
>Lovreglio, Donato : Fantasy on Themes from Verdi's "La Traviata" for clarinet & piano, Op. 45
>Gershwin, George : Preludes (3) for piano
>Rachmaninov, Sergei : Songs (14), Op. 34
>Weber, Carl Maria von : Grand Duo Concertante for clarinet & piano in E flat major, J. 204 (Op. 48)
>Milton, Simon : Carmen Fantasy, for clarinet & piano, Op. 22

Album Summary

>Giampieri, Alamiro : Carnival of Venice, capriccio variations for clarinet & orchestra in B flat
>Messager, Andre : Solo de concours for clarinet & piano
>Milhaud, Darius : Scaramouche (3), suite for clarinet & orchestra (or piano), Op. 165d
>Lovreglio, Donato : Fantasy on Themes from Verdi's "La Traviata" for clarinet & piano, Op. 45
>Gershwin, George : Preludes (3) for piano
>Rachmaninov, Sergei : Songs (14), Op. 34
>Weber, Carl Maria von : Grand Duo Concertante for clarinet & piano in E flat major, J. 204 (Op. 48)
>Milton, Simon : Carmen Fantasy, for clarinet & piano, Op. 22
Performers Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Michael Collins is one of the most versatile clarinetists, possessing a dazzling virtuosity and sensitive musicianship that have made him the favourite of conductors, composers, and audiences throughout the world. Now an exclusive Chandos artist, Collins is embarking on a series of recordings designed to display the extraordinarily wide range of music written for his instrument. The present programme comprises a varied repertoire, concentrating generally (though not exclusively) on its more extrovert virtuoso aspects and offering some breathtaking show-stoppers. Well-known works such as Rachmaninoff's haunting Vocalise contrast with the sunny brilliance of Giampieri's Il carnevale di Venezia, and the playful, inventive French items by Milhaud and Messager provide a further contrast in mood and colour.

"[Collins] give the impression of improvising the spectacular virtuoso writing with a freedom of expression that conveys pure joy...In all this Piers Lane also plays a virtuoso part, and the recording is outstandingly vivid...What makes the disc more consistently enjoyable than many such offerings is the pure joy in virtuosity revealed in every item." -Gramophone Magazine

"Virtuosity is at the heart of this appealing, exhilarating disc...Collins first recorded the Weber, Messager and Lovreglio back in 1992...This time round, he lives up to the standards he set then, both in technical ease and in subtlety of phrasing. Piers Lane makes a stalwart contribution." -BBC Music Magazine ****

" Despite the phenomenal virtuosity, and for all the hard work that must have gone into achieving it, what first strikes you about Michael Collins's playing is its supreme naturalness - as if he had been born holding a clarinet. The next thing is the artistry that infuses it: the fastest, most blatantly exhibitionistic runs and arpeggios and trills...always make music." -Sunday Times ****

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Britten Studio, Hoffmann Building, Snape Maltings, Suff (02/01/2010-02/03/2010).



Reviews

Wonderful recital of clarinet gems!
Michael Collins has, in many ways, inherited the mantle of well known English clarinet virtuosi from the likes and line of Gervase de Peyer and Reginald Kell. Like DePeyer and Kell, Collins began as a top grade orchestral player, has also recently gotten into conducting, his career truly took off in the role of soloist. Michael Collins has also done what Benny Goodman, Richard Stoltzman and Martin Frost have done; to become an advocate of new, high quality music for his instrument and be on the front line of commissioning composers. This advocacy has produced the Eliott Carter 'Clarinet Concerto' and the John Adams' "Gnarly Buttons" (concerto for clarinet and chamber orchestra) among others. Collins is a performer with a supple, liquid and beautiful tone and control of all registers. He has appreciable technique and a good staccato but what I have enjoyed about his playing the most, over the years, is his sensitivity to the phrase and line in music. Collins can play fast and in a very attention getting manner, but never just because he can - always with the inherent qualities of the music first and foremost. This new, wonderful recital on Chandos is a terrific example and an excellent introduction to his artistry. There are some very familar works here. Collins' reading of the Milhaud "Scaramouche", the Rachmaninov "Vocalise" and the Weber "Grand Duo Concertante" (a 'must play' for any undergraduate clarinet performance major) are all exceptionally well done and among the best renditions one could find. For me, however, I truly enjoyed some pieces that I was not that familiar with. The Lovreglio "Fantasia de Concerto" (after themes from Verdi's 'La Traviata') and Giamperi's "Carnival of Venice" variations are great fun to listen to and, I'd bet, to play. Alamiro Giamperi was both the editor/discoverer of the Lovreglio work as well as clarinetist-composer in his own right. They are both very Italian sounding, flourishy delicacies and a great addition to this program. Another "find" but one I did know about was the Jim Cohn arrangement of the Gershwin "Preludes" Originally for piano, they play very well in this version (a few altissimo notes in for showy purposes) and are among Gershwin's best know pieces. The program also includes Messager's "Solo de Concours" from 1899 and the much newer "Carmen Fantasy" by Simon Milton (2009). Both pieces are showy, tuneful and probably quite challlenging to play but they do not leave as strong a musical impression as the Weber, Milhaud or Lovreglio, for example. This package really is a great introduction to the playing of Michael Collins and special mention must be made of Piers Lane, his pianist. Lane's sensitive accompaniment and balance is reminiscent of some of those great recital albums made by de Peyer forty years ago with Cyril Preedy and others. I also do recommend you hear Collins in the John Adams "Gnarly Buttons" - a late twentieth century master work for clarinet played by this master of the clarinet. Chandos' recording and the packaging is characteristically first rate!
Submitted on 11/09/10 by Dan Coombs 
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Works Details

>Giampieri, Alamiro : Carnival of Venice, capriccio variations for clarinet & orchestra in B flat
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Piers Lane (Piano)
  • Notes: Britten Studio, Hoffmann Building, Snape Maltings, Suffolk, England (02/01/2010-02/03/2010)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 53 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>André Messager (1853 - 1929) : Solo de concours for clarinet & piano
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Piers Lane (Piano)
  • Notes: Britten Studio, Hoffmann Building, Snape Maltings, Suffolk, England (02/01/2010-02/03/2010)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Milhaud, Darius : Scaramouche (3), suite for clarinet & orchestra (or piano), Op. 165d
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Piers Lane (Piano)
  • Notes: Britten Studio, Hoffmann Building, Snape Maltings, Suffolk, England (02/01/2010-02/03/2010)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1941

>Lovreglio, Donato : Fantasy on Themes from Verdi's "La Traviata" for clarinet & piano, Op. 45
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Piers Lane (Piano)
  • Notes: Britten Studio, Hoffmann Building, Snape Maltings, Suffolk, England (02/01/2010-02/03/2010)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic

>Gershwin, George : Preludes (3) for piano
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Piers Lane (Piano)
  • Notes: Britten Studio, Hoffmann Building, Snape Maltings, Suffolk, England (02/01/2010-02/03/2010)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1926

>Rachmaninov, Sergei : Songs (14), Op. 34
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Piers Lane (Piano)
  • Notes: Britten Studio, Hoffmann Building, Snape Maltings, Suffolk, England (02/01/2010-02/03/2010)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 55 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Weber, Carl Maria von : Grand Duo Concertante for clarinet & piano in E flat major, J. 204 (Op. 48)
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Piers Lane (Piano)
  • Notes: Britten Studio, Hoffmann Building, Snape Maltings, Suffolk, England (02/01/2010-02/03/2010)
  • Running Time: 19 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Written: 1815-1816

>Milton, Simon : Carmen Fantasy, for clarinet & piano, Op. 22
  • Performers: Michael Collins (Clarinet); Piers Lane (Piano)
  • Notes: Britten Studio, Hoffmann Building, Snape Maltings, Suffolk, England (02/01/2010-02/03/2010)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 3 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary