This is the third in a series of Lyrical Clarinet albums released by Michael Collins at a leisurely pace since the early 2010s. There are also Virtuoso Clarinet albums. All have been successful and testify to the renewed appeal of the short pieces that used to populate instrumental recitals and not just those for the clarinet. In this installment, only one work, the Fantaisie of Philippe Gaubert, was originally written for clarinet and piano, the rest are arrangements. Among these are some very familiar tunes, such as Träumerei from Schumann's Kinderszenen, Op. 15, and the Liebesleid and Schön Rosmarin of Fritz Kreisler, pieces that listeners still want to hear despite a century of tight-lipped modernists trying to discourage them. There are tunes by Mendelssohn, Liszt, and Brahms, but the program is essentially French in inspiration. Collins is an arresting player, with a voice-like tone that he intermittently abandons for an edgier sound, just to make the rounded clarinet voice all the sweeter when it returns. He closes with his arrangement of Franck's Violin Sonata. This might easily have gone on one of the Virtuoso Clarinet albums, and it's a commanding performance. It might also have been put in the middle of the program rather than at the end, to break up the sequence of pieces of essentially similar mood, but this is a minor complaint about an album that will be essential for clarinet lovers and attractive for those who enjoy a tuneful instrumental recital of any kind.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
Lied ohne Worte, Op. 38 No. 2 (Song without Words) in C minor from Lieder ohne Worte, Book 3 for Solo Piano
Träumerei, Op. 15 No. 7 (Dreaming) in F major from Kinderszenen (Scenes of Childhood) Leichte Stücke for Solo Piano
Liebestraum No. 3, S 541 (Dream of Love) in A flat major from Liebesträume Drei Notturnos (Three Nocturnes) for Solo Piano
La Fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair) No. 8 from Préludes, Book 1 for Solo Piano
|Sonata, M 8 in A major for Piano and Violin|
III. Recitativo - Fantasia Recitativo. Ben moderato - Molto lento - Poco animato - Fantasia. A tempo moderato - Largamente - Recitativo. Molto lento e mesto