Michael Collins plays a crucial role in the establishment of the Irish Free State in the 1920s, but becomes vilified by those hoping to create a completely independent Irish republic.
Michael Collins is one of our most versatile clarinettists, possessing a dazzling virtuosity and sensitive musicianship that have made him the favourite of conductors, composers, and audiences throughout the world. Now an exclusive Chandos artist, Collins is embarking on a series of recordings designed to display the extraordinarily wide range of music written for his instrument. The present programme comprises a varied repertoire, concentrating generally (though not exclusively) on its more extrovert virtuoso aspects and offering some breathtaking show-stoppers. Well-known works such as Rachmaninoff’s haunting Vocalise contrast with the sunny brilliance of Giampieri’s Il carnevale di Venezia, and the playful, inventive French items by Milhaud and Messager provide a further contrast in mood and colour.
Michael Collins has been recording for Chandos what one might call thematic ‘mood’ albums; virtuosity has been covered and here is lyricism. Burgmüller’s Duo is a single movement, but tripartite piece, dating from 1834. It assuredly lives up to the disc billing, being profusely lyric, but in its central panel cleverly evokes the operatic by means of declamatory piano statements above which the clarinet spins vocalised curlicues of decidedly virtuosic pretension. It hardly aspires to anything especially deep, but makes for a good palette refreshing opener.
The Brodsky Quartet present the first of two albums that will feature Brahms’s complete string quartets. This recording includes the String Quartet Op. 51 No. 2 with the Clarinet Quintet in B minor. The second string quartet was written alongside its contrasting companion, the String Quartet Op. 51 No. 1. They were both finally published in 1873 after being held back for years by a typically self-doubting Brahms until he had brought them to his own standards of perfection. Of the two, the second is warmer, more affirmative and relaxed, with few extremes of tempo or mood. It is a work that often looks backward, incorporating hints of baroque devices in his lyrical writing.