Mckinley/Englund/Foss

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Mckinley/Englund/Foss
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Clarinet Concerto No. 2; Clarinet Concerto; Clarinet Concerto
PERFORMER: Richard Stoltzman (clarinet); Deutsches SO, Berlin/Lukas Foss
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 61902 2
One of the most encouraging things about the new music scene is how many concertos are being written for star soloists (equally, one depressing feature is how few of these works survive beyond their round of first performances). The American clarinettist Richard Stoltzman has been tireless in this respect, and this beautifully performed and recorded CD shows off three recent commissions to good advantage. All three were composed in the last decade, yet none would frighten off any audience used to, say, the Copland Concerto – and at around twenty minutes each, none outstays its welcome. Closest in spirit to Copland is the Second Concerto of his compatriot William Thomas McKinley, whose music is little known this side of the Atlantic. Its outer movements are engagingly rhythmic in a generalised sort of way, while the central Andantino is more obviously blues-inspired. For my money, Lukas Foss has a more original ear, though his work also has a rather obvious finale. The Finn, Einar Englund, is the odd man out: his austere idiom is perhaps less well suited to Stoltzman’s piercing, effervescent tone, though here too there’s a good deal to catch the imagination. Stoltzman brings his familiar jaunty musicianship to all three works, so they’re perhaps best listened to separately rather than in one go. But it’s certainly a disc worth exploring. Stephen Maddock

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