Music for Clarinet!

Gerald Finzi: Bagatelles for Clarinet

I have always enjoyed the clarinet as either a solo instrument, and as a very important member of the orchestral family. Just think of what Beethoven and Mozart did in their symphonic and solo work for this instrument.

The chamber music repertoire is also filled with examples, such as Brahms’ Clarinet quintet and others.

This CD is a must-have for anyone like me who enjoys music for clarinet but is looking for compositions beyond the classic works by Mozart, Weber, etc. I found the Finzi Bagatelles to be exactly the music I wanted. As a bonus, one also gets on this CD the Finzi clarinet concerto and the Stanford concerto. These Clarinet concertos of Charles Stanford and Gerald Finzi have become better known in recent years after many decades of neglect.

Ms. Johnson is a spectacular young player. She produces a beautiful warm tone and has the temperament and flexibility to use Rubato to great effect. We will hear more from her…

Gerald Finzi is a respected name in British music, but he is not well known in the United States. His Clarinet Concerto may be his finest single work and deserves to be played and heard. It reveals this composer’s delight in bittersweet dissonances. The second movement is quite serious; the first and last movements don’t quite reach the same heights, but are full of memorable melodies.

Stanford’s piece is tuneful and pleasant with an acrobatic finale, but the listener is likely to feel it is not quite as satisfying as the Finzi.
Ms. Johnson selected a piano accompaniment in the Finzi Bagatelles. The piano emphasizes the simple, but beautiful harmonies, and lets the counterpoint in the finale really come out.

Conclusion: Very good choice to enjoy newer clarinet music.

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