WORKS: Clarinet Concerto; Five Bagatelles; A Severn Rhapsody; Romance, Op. 11
PERFORMER: Robert Plane (clarinet);; Northern Sinfonia/Howard Griffiths
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553566
This is an absolutely delightful programme which will be especially welcome to all lovers of English music, and the fact that some of this music has never been recorded before demonstrates the level of unjust neglect suffered by this composer in recent years. The two works featuring solo clarinet are probably the best-known, though the second of them, the Five Bagatelles, is performed here in the rarely heard arrangement for clarinet and strings which is, in some ways, even more effective than the original version for piano.
Of the remaining pieces, the Three Soliloquies began life as part of the incidental music to a 1946 BBC radio play, while the Introit, originally used as the slow movement of an unpublished violin concerto, Romance and Severn Rhapsody all date from the Twenties. Despite displaying an obvious debt to both Vaughan Williams and Elgar and perhaps leaning too heavily towards the pastoral, these early works already show the emergence of an original voice and provide a fascinating comparison with the mature style of the Clarinet Concerto. The playing throughout is first-class, with Robert Plane proving an excellent soloist able to exploit both the elegiac and virtuosic aspects of the music with equal success. Tim Payne