Schumann: Fantasiestücke, Op. 73; 3 Romances, Op. 94; Märchenbilder, Op. 113/1 & 4; 5 Stücke im Volkston, Op. 102/2, 3, 4; Adagio & Allegro, Op. 70

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Denon
WORKS: Fantasiestücke, Op. 73; 3 Romances, Op. 94; Märchenbilder, Op. 113/1 & 4; 5 Stücke im Volkston, Op. 102/2, 3, 4; Adagio & Allegro, Op. 70
PERFORMER: Paul Meyer (clarinet)Eric Le Sage (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CO 75960 DDD
Paul Meyer has coupled Schumann’s well-known Fantasiestücke with transcriptions of four works originally written for oboe, horn, viola and cello, some of which are not entirely convincing in their reincarnation. The most successful are the Three Romances which, since they were conceived for the oboe, are the closest to idiomatic clarinet writing. I find it difficult, in view of the richness of the clarinet repertoire, to understand why one needs to rearrange music in this way. However, Meyer makes a beautiful sound throughout and his sensitive and expressive rendition of the Fantasiestücke is well worth hearing.

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Choice of repertoire is certainly not an issue in the case of Jonathan Cohler, whose misleadingly titled release contains some of the most important 20th-century pieces for clarinet and piano. In addition to the established works by Hindemith and Vaughan Williams, Cohler includes some lesser-known but delightful pieces by Eugene Bozza, Milhaud, Françaix and Honegger, as well as the first recording of the title piece, Moonflowers, Baby! by Meyer Kupferman, which is subtitled ‘a jazz essay for solo clarinet’. The works by Bozza and Françaix, in particular, are technically very demanding and Cohler performs these with great fluency and apparent ease, but his sound and use of vibrato in the more lyrical sections are not to my taste.

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As the title implies, Emma Johnson’s Encores 2 comprises a selection of ‘lollipops’ with little serious musical content. They are played with her usual verve and enthusiasm and will not disappoint her fans. Tim Payne