> American Clarinet Classics [HC]: Classical CD Reviews- Jun2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Aaron COPLAND (1900 – 1990)

Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra (1948)
Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918 – 1990)

Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (1949)
Morton GOULD (1913 – 1996)

Derivations (1955, rev. 1965)
Artie SHAW (born 1910)

Concerto for Clarinet (1940)
George GERSHWIN (1898 – 1937)

Summertime (1935, arr. Gregor Bühl)
They All Laughed (1937, arr. John Cameron)
The Man I Love (1924, arr. John Cameron)
I Got Rhythm (1930, arr. John Cameron)
Sharon Kam (clarinet)
London Symphony Orchestra; Gregor Bühl
Recorded: Olympic Studios, London, June and September 2001
TELDEC 8573-88482-2 [61:20]

Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, completed in 1948, written for and dedicated to Benny Goodman, is quite deservedly one of his most popular works and has often been recorded. It is too well-known to need any particular comment, but suffice it to say that it is – by far – the finest piece in this collection.

Bernstein originally wrote his Prelude, Fugue and Riffs for Woody Herman’s band that disbanded before performing it. The piece was reworked for its inclusion in Wonderful Town but was eventually dropped from it. Some time later Bernstein conducted the first performance with Benny Goodman to whom the piece was then dedicated. Bernstein at his most extrovert, jazzy mood.

Morton Gould often used popular material in his many orchestral works that are often tinged by jazz. Derivations for Clarinet and Band (1955, revised ten years later) is no exception. Like the Bernstein piece, it blends classical form and jazz in a brilliant way.

Artie Shaw’s Clarinet Concerto was written in 1940 for the film Second Chorus. Light stuff indeed but hugely entertaining.

The Gershwin arrangements are all based on well-known and celebrated tunes, and includes, besides the ubiquitous Summertime, the lovely The Man I Love, that very song that impressed John Ireland so much ("That man beats the whole of us" is what Ireland confided to his friend John Longmire).

American Classics? Well, not quite though Copland’s concerto undoubtedly is a classic; but a hugely entertaining collection of jazz-inflected works, brightly recorded and magnificently played.

Hubert Culot

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