Milhaud, Pierne, Honegger, Debussy, Ravel, Bliss, Stanford, etc

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bliss,Debussy,etc,Honegger,Milhaud,Pierne,Ravel,Stanford
LABELS: Serendipity
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Collage
WORKS: Clarinet works by Milhaud, Pierne, Honegger, Debussy, Ravel, Bliss, Stanford,
PERFORMER: Linda Merrick (clarinet), Benjamin Frith (piano)
Vigorous, leonine readings of cornerstones in the clarinet repertoire sit comfortably alongside Jonathan Cohler’s world premiere recording of Simon Sargon’s recent work Deep Ellum Nights. This evocative three-movement suite, recalling migrant life in the ethnic melting pot of a decaying Dallas suburb earlier this century, is skilfully crafted and convincingly performed. There’s an enticing, street-wise colloquialism in Cohler’s playing, though his accounts of the Brahms and Weber works are better by far. The F minor Brahms Sonata is commandingly played and the valedictory, autumnal shadow of this late masterpiece is never deeply concealed. With excellent support from the pianist Judith Gordon, this is playing of real distinction. Weber’s Grand Duo Concertant, Op. 48, finds these artists in total command of every demonstrative and virtuosic gesture in this taxing three-movement work; scintillating playing, with more than a hint of wit when the occasion demands, making this the highlight of a notable release. (Available from Ongaku Records, 6 Royal Circle, Lexington, MA 02173. Tel: 0101 6178636108.)


Collage, an anthology of miniatures for clarinet and piano, from Linda Merrick and Benjamin Frith, is no less successful in its own way, though apart from the Stanford Intermezzi, there’s little of substance in this offering. Martin Ellerby’s Epitaph III: Vocalise (1991) deserves attention, but the remainder (charming, though inconsequential) rapidly cloys. Efficient playing and a decent enough recording; but still disappointing. Michael Jameson