Stanford, Vaughan Williams, Ireland, Finzi, Bliss & Arnold

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bliss & Arnold,Finzi,Ireland,Stanford,Vaughan Williams
LABELS: Clarinet Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: on the Winds of English Melody
WORKS: Works for clarinet and piano by Stanford, Vaughan Williams, Ireland, Finzi, Bliss & Arnold
PERFORMER: Victoria Soames (clarinet), John Flinders (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CC0025
Victoria Soames offers a most rewarding recital of English clarinet music, sympathetically accompanied by John Flinders. Much of his repertoire has been successfully recorded by other artists, most recently by Emma Johnson and Malcolm Martineau, but this new disc achieves the high standards comparison demands.

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Stanford’s Sonata is fluent and strongly contructed, and makes a direct impression, even if its themes lack real distinction. Soames and Flinders have the measure of the music, and here as elsewhere the recording is nicely atmospheric. There is a natural dynamic range and real impact too, without the drawback of the clarinet being too close.

The Folksong Studies of Vaughan Williams have a different style altogether. The sequence proves satisfying, not least because the phrasing is so sensitively shaped. Finzi’s Bagatelles are in the same mould: beautifully judged miniatures which convey the composer’s attractive personality. The special intimacy of Bliss’s wartime Pastoral is also well expressed by the artists.

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Ireland’s Fantasy-Sonata is the most complex of these pieces, a single span with many contrasts, music quite different from Arnold’s Sonatina. This jazzy piece was premiered back in 1951 by the young Colin Davis, and its vitality is brilliantly captured on this highly enjoyable disc. Terry Barfoot