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CD Review

English clarinetists Michael Collins plays the Mozart concerto for clarinet and the Beethoven violin concerto with the clarinet part adapted for clarinet by conductor Mikhail Pletnev. The Orchestra is the Russian National Orchestra.
I thoroughly enjoyed this recording. I hear a lot of clarinet recordings and this is definitely one of the best.
The Mozart concerto is played on a Buffet Basset clarinet with an extended range down to low C.

The tempos in the outer movement are brisk, this combined with the intensity of sound of the Russian National Orchestra makes for an exciting performance. I am generally not a huge fan of Russian Orchestras as they can often play a bit too over the top and get tonally rough, this is not the case here. The dark sound and intensity of the playing adds something to the Mozart that I usually find lacking.
The performance overall has an Operatic flavour to it. Collins articulates the passage work more than most, this is refreshing and also in keeping with period performance practice where a rougher surface texture( less legato) was more the norm.

The Beethoven violin concerto performed on the clarinet.

This is why I bought the recording and I was not disappointed. Other than taking parts of it down the octave it's basically all there and it works. Collins tone as it in the Mozart is clear resonant warm and full of color throughout. Of the two performances I prefer the clarinet sound in the Beethoven concerto.
 I believe he is using a Peter Eaton International clarinet, though it doesn't say so. The sound anyway is of importance, we are used to hearing those lines played on a tonally rich violin and for the clarinet to match the warmth and color of the violin is difficult but he pulls it off. The sound is neither diffuse and spread as with some English players nor overly hard.
Technically its very impressive for a clarinet to play all those violin octaves is remarkable.
Again in this performance the orchestra is excellent.
What I like best about this CD is that I was aware of listening to the music more than listening to how Collin's played the clarinet.A CD that reminds me of why I play the clarinet.


Alban Classical


Private performance April 14

PGSO April 21

Wind World Alban classical school show April 23 and 30