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From the Airwaves

John Bradbury (clarinet), Ian Buckle (piano) (MPR)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

From the Airwaves
Works by Ireland, Gipps, Kell, Swepstone, Curzon, Carse et al
John Bradbury (clarinet), Ian Buckle (piano)
MPR MPR117   72:51 mins

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Images of old radio sets and microphones don’t usually adorn album booklets, but then not many albums offer a programme of clarinet pieces inspired by music broadcast by the BBC over its radio stations in the late 1920s and ’30s. The lighter clarinet repertoire was most favoured, but that didn’t automatically mean flimsy artistry, and some of the items resurrected by John Bradbury and his piano accompanist Ian Buckle please the ears as much by their technical skill as their charming manner. Highlights include Harold Samuel’s deftly graceful Three Clarinet Solos, Adam Carse’s Happy Tune (the title tells all), Edward German’s unassuming Andante and Tarantella and Frederic Curzon’s winningly humorous Clarinetto con moto. The weaker pleasures include four items by Frederick Kell and the tearful Victoriana of Edith Swepstone’s Une larme, a piece that doesn’t get any better because its title is in French.

To vary the diet and add extra fibre two longer pieces are also included, John Ireland’s 1943 Fantasy-Sonata and Ruth Gipps’s Clarinet Sonata of 1954. This was wise. The Ireland especially proves an excellent showcase for the performers, with Buckle given enough room to display his panache and poetic touch, while Bradbury’s dexterity at the extremes of his register are strikingly displayed in the Gipps, a substantial creation (18 minutes) alternately sprightly, pensive and muscular. Both are significant works, easily strong and characterful enough to make any radio audience put the tea and biscuits to one side, sit back and really listen.

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Geoff Brown