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Cat. No. CHAN 10704 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10704 - British Clarinet Sonatas, Volume 1
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Available From: 15 February 2012
British Clarinet Sonatas, Volume 1

This is Volume 1 in a new series of British Clarinet Sonatas, featuring the exclusive Chandos artist Michael Collins in works by Bax, Bliss, Howells, Ireland, and Stanford. He is accompanied by the pianist Michael McHale. Their ‘Lyrical Clarinet’ disc received much praise, among others from BBC Music which noted: ‘It’s hard to imagine this programme better played than it is here by Collins and McHale… technically impeccable.’

Stanford is perhaps best known for his larger-scale works, such as his symphonies and the Clarinet Concerto, but he also wrote much delightful chamber music. The Clarinet Sonata is a superb example of the composer’s contributions to this genre, the work displaying distinct echoes of Brahms, before concluding in hushed tranquillity.
 
Stanford was a Professor of Music at Cambridge and Professor of Composition at the Royal College of Music, simultaneously, for nearly forty years. To list those who studied with him reads like a roll-call of British composers of the first half of the twentieth century, and this disc features the sonatas of two of his students: John Ireland, whose works are closely affiliated with French impressionism, and Howells, whose Clarinet Sonata is dedicated to Frederick Thurston. In his day, Thurston taught many prominent clarinettists, including the soloist on this disc, Michael Collins.
 
Also on this album is one of the earliest surviving works by Sir Arthur Bliss who burst onto the British musical scene in the 1920s, writing music inspired by Stravinsky, Ravel, and jazz – music that rebelled against the conservative values represented by Stanford. His Pastoral, however, is an early work, and pre-dates these stylistic extremes.
 
Sir Arnold Bax described himself as ‘a brazen romantic’, and the Clarinet Sonata recorded here is influenced by Wagner, Richard Strauss, and Debussy, and by Irish and Celtic landscapes and literature.

Reviews

“...With excellent production values, recording and booklet notes, this is a self-recommending start to the new Chandos series.”
 
Jonathan Woolf - MusicWeb-International.com – 25 September 2012


“... Collin’s sound is bright and well focused ... Charles Villier’s Standford’s sonata, a romantic work written in 1911, is reminiscent of Brahms; Arthur Bliss’s brief Pastoral  is an early, attractive work. Collins is excellent in both... Chandos, as usual, provides plenty of space around Collins, although not so much as to blur details... Michael McHale in particular is a true partner in what is essentially chamber music for two players. I recommend Collins for both the repertoire and the performances... “

Richard  A Kaplan – Fanfare – September/October 2012


"...Collins and McHale make a convincing case for these attractive scores. One senses that Collins is a sensitive musician. He certainly has impressive breath control and produces an attractive timbre. McHale is a poised player who provides sympathetic support and never overpowers the clarinet. The engineers at the popular chamber music recording venue, Potton Hall, have produced an excellent sound quality, clear and well balanced.I loved every minute of this disc and yes my heart was still beating fast such was the attraction of the music and quality of the playing."
 
Michael Cookson - musicweb-international.com - 15 June 2012

"...Collins and McHale make a convincing case for these attractive scores. One senses that Collins is a sensitive musician. He certainly has impressive breath control and produces an attractive timbre. McHale is a poised player who provides sympathetic support and never overpowers the clarinet. The engineers at the popular chamber music recording venue, Potton Hall, have produced an excellent sound quality, clear and well balanced.I loved every minute of this disc and yes my heart was still beating fast such was the attraction of the music and quality of the playing."
 
Michael Cookson - musicweb-international.com - 15 June 2012

“...Michael Collins... brings myriad impressive nuances to his programme of five works ...”
Jeremy Dibble – Gramophone magazine  - June 2012

         Performance *****      Recording *****
“...Collin’s clarinet-playing mesmerises the ear: the closing phrase of Stanford’s ‘Caoine’ movement shows what a player in this league can convey in just two quiet notes. Without snatching the limelight, Michael McHale’s accompanying finds a range of keyboard colours in, above all, the works by Ireland and Howells, making their individual sound-worlds seem unexpectedly subtle and rich.”
Malcolm Hayes – BBC Music magazine – Awards Issue - 2012
 

“There is plenty of variety here as Michael Collins begins his survey of music for clarinet written by British composers.... The performances are superbly committed and insightful, and beautifully recorded.” ****
Colin Anderson – Time Out magazine – 15 March 2012

 

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