British Clarinet Sonatas Vol 2
This is a delightful disc, not just through the warmth and fun of the five works by five composers, but through the magic of the great clarinettist Michael Collins. I remember first hearing him when he was still a teenage student and already that magic was clear in the individual subtlety with which he shaded phrases and dynamics, even rivalling the artistry of his teacher, Thea King.
It is good that he is being given the freedom to choose his repertory imaginatively as here. Malcolm Arnold’s Sonatina, an early work, is characteristic in the jazzy energy of the outer movements and the heart-easing lyricism of the central slow movement. Arnold Cooke’s Sonata is on a much larger scale, in four movements, with the first and third warmly lyrical if not very memorably so, and attractive syncopations in the second and fourth, with delicious repeated notes in the jaunty finale.
Tributes by Edward Gregson consists of five charming, well-contrasted miniatures, ending with a chirpy finale which again gives Collins the chance to demonstrate his agility in playing rapidly repeated notes. Arthur Benjamin’s Le tombeau de Ravel is a substantial single movement described as ‘valse-caprices’, starting with fluttering figures and ending with an unashamed echo of the climax of La valse.
Lastly, rounding the sequence off brilliantly, comes the Sonatina of Joseph Horovitz, beautifully written for the instrument. The slow movement inspires Collins to play with the widest range of tone and dynamic, while the finale erupts in pure jollity, perfect fun music with Collins and his fine pianist, Michael McHale, enjoying themselves hugely. Excellent, well-balanced sound recorded in the helpful acoustic of Potton Hall, Suffolk.