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ClassicsOnline Home » Clarinet Recital: Collins, Michael - BURGMULLER, N. / FINZI, G. / SAINT-SAENS, C. / PART, A. / READE, P. / POULENC, F. (The Lyrical Clarinet)
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 pacing that brings out the melody without weighing it down takes 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.more....
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