The Lyrical Clarinet

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Baermann,Burgmüller,Finzi,Part,Poulenc,Reade & Saint-Saëns
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Clarinet works by Baermann, Burgmüller, Finzi, Pärt, Poulenc, Reade & Saint-Saëns
PERFORMER: Michael Collins (clarinet), Michael McHale (piano)

Hard on the heels of Michael Collins’s The Virtuoso Clarinet, reviewed in January, comes its companion, The Lyrical Clarinet. The distinction is a somewhat arbitrary one. The Sonatas by Saint-Saëns and Poulenc do indeed have more than their fair share of lyricism, but require plenty of virtuosity as well.
And the clarinet’s simple scale-wise long notes in Arvo Pärt’s rapt Spiegel im Spiegel, though admittedly anti-virtuosic, are equally anti-lyrical. But there’s certainly lyricism of an intimate English variety in Gerald Finzi’s Five Bagatelles, and an uncomplicated tunefulness in the late Paul Reade’s Suite from his music for the TV series The Victorian Kitchen Garden. And lyrical early Romanticism is well represented by Heinrich Baermann’s Adagio, and the Duo by Norbert Burgmüller, a short-lived contemporary of Mendelssohn and Schumann.  

It’s hard to imagine this varied programme better played than it is here by Collins and Michael McHale. They’re technically impeccable and stylistically flexible, and, aided by an unobtrusively excellent recording, they both produce some beautiful pianissimo playing. Anthony Burton