Various: Various, includes The Victorian Kitchen Garden Suite

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: ASV
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Encores
WORKS: Various, includes The Victorian Kitchen Garden Suite
PERFORMER: Emma Johnson (clarinet), Julius Drake (piano), Skaila Kanga (harp)
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 8000 DDD
Being a deconstructed, post-modernist sort of fellow, I don’t react all that well to such faux-naïf offerings as Paul Reade’s Suite from the Victorian Kitchen Garden, the featured work on this album of Hit Tunes from the English clarinettist Emma Johnson. But let’s not huff and puff too much in Killjoy Critical Mode: there’s a good deal to enjoy here if arrangements of the Flight of the Bumble Bee and Arthur Benjamin’s Jamaican Rumba (now there’s one I’d not heard for years) are your thing.

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Though I’d have preferred what the hard-pressed sleevenote-writer calls the ‘mock serious badinage’ of Weber’s Grand duo concertante (discussed despite its absence) to an arrangement of the variations by Beethoven on ‘Là ci darem’ (from Don Giovanni), I loved the Three Preludes of George Gershwin (though not Paul Harvey’s laborious etude on the same composer’s ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’) and the concluding Rigoletto fantasia. The playing is zestful and musical. Classic FM rather than Radio 3, though, if you’ll pardon the expression. Keith Potter