Debussy, Ravel: Petite suite; Deux arabesques; Six épigraphes antiques

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Debussy,Ravel
LABELS: Clarinet Classics
WORKS: Petite suite; Deux arabesques; Six épigraphes antiques
PERFORMER: The Clarinet Section
Anyone who travels regularly by train will have noticed those curious men (never women) who tend to wear anoraks even in fine weather and stand at the end of the platform ready to jot down the engine’s chassis number as it pulls into the station. Every field of human endeavour has its obsessive enthusiasts; this record is one for devotees of the clarinet. A scholarly programme note traces the history of the homogenous ensemble back to the 15th century, but the almost total absence of repertoire for six clarinets says more than history ever can. Clarinet lovers are not so easily deterred, and on this disc are to be found arrangements for clarinet sextet of well-known piano music by Debussy and Ravel. It works surprisingly well. In Ma mère l’oye some of Ravel’s colouristic effects are deftly transferred to the piccolo clarinet, while the sombre mood of some of Debussy’s Épigraphes antiques is eerily evoked by the six instrumentalists. Non-anoraks may prefer to sample the disc in small doses, but some artful arrangements and the Clarinet Section’s high standards of musicianship go a long way towards making the exercise an enjoyable one. Christopher Wood