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Cat. No. CHAN 10758 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10758 - British Clarinet Sonatas, Volume 2
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Available From: 15 February 2013
British Clarinet Sonatas, Volume 2
This is Volume 2 in the series ‘British Clarinet Sonatas’, in which Michael Collins is joined by the pianist Michael McHale. BBC Music awarded five stars to Volume 1, and wrote: ‘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.’ On this album the pair turns to works for clarinet and piano by Arthur Benjamin, Edward Gregson, Joseph Horovitz, Sir Malcolm Arnold, and Arnold Cook. 
 
Arthur Benjamin was Australian-born, but lived out much of his life in England. In its melodies, harmonies, and rhythms, his Le Tombeau de Ravel reflects a deep and long-standing admiration for the music of the French composer – the title itself pays tribute to Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin. But whereas Ravel’s Tombeau consists of a prelude and several dances, Benjamin’s is a sequence of ‘Valse-caprices’, which has more in common with a different work by Ravel, the Valses nobles et sentimentales for piano and for orchestra. 
 
Edward Gregson completed his five Tributes in 2010, having started the first of the set some twenty years earlier. Each of the Tributes is written as homage to one of five noted twentieth-century composers who wrote memorably for the clarinet in solo or chamber works. In his own words, Gregson ‘tried to invade the stylistic worlds’ of these composers – namely Poulenc, Finzi, Stravinsky, Messiaen, and Bartók – in much the same way that Arthur Benjamin had channelled Ravel in Le Tombeau de Ravel. 
 
Joseph Horovitz was born in Vienna, but immigrated to England as a boy, and has lived in London for more than seventy years. His output includes operas, ballets, choral works, chamber music, several pieces for brass band, and of course this Sonatina for clarinet and piano, written in 1981 and first performed by Gervase de Peyer and Gwenneth Pryor at the Wigmore Hall, London later that year. 
 
Also on this album are Sir Malcolm Arnold’s Sonatina for clarinet and piano, written between 1948 and 1951 for the eminent British clarinettist Frederick Thurston, and Arnold Cooke’s Sonata of 1959. Cooke was a student of Paul Hindemith’s in Berlin, and this work is strongly inspired by Hindemith’s trademark compositional use of traditional tonal construction, and clear, cool contrapuntal textures.
Reviews

"... there’s no denying that Collins is a master of his instrument; his technique is faultless... "
Richard A Kaplan - Fanfare - September/October 2013

“…Collins and McHale deserve praise for this recording project, ensuring that these wonderful pieces stay fresh and relevant in the clarinet repertoire. Volume 2 is surely a crowd pleaser. Collins offers his usual effervescent persona, heartfelt sentiment, and technique; and McHale displays his keyboard skills and reliable partnership…”

Patrick Hanudel – American Record Guide – September/October 2013

                              **** - Excellent

Luca Rossetto Casel – Musica magazine – June 2013

 “This is a delightful disc, not just through the warmth and fun of the five works by five composers, but through the magic of the great clarinettist Michael Collins...”

Edward Greenfield – Gramophone magazine – June 2013

           Performance ****          Recording ****
 
“...Collins’s lustrous expertise is fully evidence, as is Michael McHale’s top-flight accompanying.”
Malcolm Hayes – BBC Music magazine – May 2013 

"Recently this site mentioned a stunning Chandos issue of British clarinet concertos played by Michael Collins... Now we have another featuring this remarkable artist, his second devoted to British clarinet sonatas. The first, issued about a year ago, featured music of Ireland, Bax, Bliss, Stanford and Howells. Now we have the works listed above, all challenges for the soloist, magnificently played. Of particular interest is Tributes, a set of 5 short pieces, each written for a leading clarinetist, ending with "To Bela Bartók" composed for Collins. And Arthur Benjamin’s Le Tombeau de Ravel is a set of 5 brief valse-caprices suggested by Ravel’s famous work. Captivating music all, recorded with remarkably vivid sound by Chandos. Another terrific CD!"
 
Robert Benson - ClassicalCDreview.com - 26 March 2013

“Michael Collins is on superb musical and technical form for Chandos’s second volume of British Clarinet Sonatas... All the music here is worth hearing, the Cooke and Gregson standing out for me. These matchless performances, with Michael Mc Hale every bit Michael Collin’s equal, are beautifully recorded and presented. Enjoy!”
 
Colin Anderson – International Record Review – March 2013  

BRITISH CLARINET SONATAS, VOL. 2; COLLINS / MCHALE
This is Vol. 2 in the series ‘British Clarinet Sonatas’, in which Michael Collins is joined by the pianist Michael McHale in a survey of music by Joseph Horovitz (Sonatina), Edward Gregson (Tributes), Arthur Benjamin (Le Tombeau de Ravel), Sir Malcolm Arnold (Sonatina), and Arnold Cooke (Sonata). BBC Music awarded Vol. 1 of the series five stars and wrote: ‘Collins’s clarinet-playing mesmerises the ear; the closing phrase of Stanford’s “Caoine” 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, works by Ireland and Howells, making their individual sound-worlds seem unexpectedly subtle and rich.’

 

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