ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Clarinet Recital
WORKS: Phantasiestücke; Romanzen
PERFORMER: Sharon Kam (clarinet), Itamar Golan (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-11022-2
While there is much to recommend in these highly committed renditions, I am, not for the first time, deterred by two aspects of the clarinet playing which, for me, are a distraction from the music. The most noticeable is the excessive breath noise, which is due primarily to the player rather than to microphone positioning and which, although a common problem in solo wind recordings, should not be accepted. Secondly, the tone of the clarinet, while very beautiful in the quieter passages, becomes rather hard during crescendos and at louder levels, and lacks the richness and warmth that some players can produce throughout the dynamic spectrum.
These, however, are matters of personal preference. Generally, the performances are very thoughtfully shaped and the virtuoso passages are made to sound effortless. On one or two occasions the music is pulled around too much for my taste, especially in the first of the three Schumann Fantasiestücke and at one extraordinary point during the last movement of the Poulenc Sonata. The most successful items are the Debussy Rapsodie, persuasively played, and the Françaix Tema con variazioni in which the virtuosity is dazzling. Tim Payne