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English Clarinet Concertos
John CARMICHAEL (b. 1930)

Fêtes Champêtres (1963) [8:52]
Leighton LUCAS (1903 – 1982)

Clarinet Concerto (1957) [21:00]
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872 – 1958)

Six Studies on English Folk Song (1926, orch. 1957) [8:42]
Humphrey PROCTER-GREGG (1895 – 1980)

Clarinet Concerto (c.1940) [25:40]
Ian Scott (clarinet)
Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Barry Wordsworth
Recorded: Cadogan Hall, London, January 2005
DUTTON CDLX 7153 [64:39]

Only two pieces in this collection may be considered as concertos and are in fact titled as such. Carmichael’s Fêtes Champêtres is more of a suite of three dance movements in an accessible, Gallic idiom often bringing Poulenc to mind. It’s none the worse for that since this attractive piece is enjoyable from first to last. Originally scored for symphony orchestra, it is heard here in a version scored for smaller orchestral forces made by the composer for this recording.

RVW’s Six Studies in English Folk Song were originally written for cello and piano, but also exist in alternative versions, including one for clarinet and piano. This short work is heard here in Arnold Foster’s scoring for strings made in 1957.

Leighton Lucas’s music is far too little known. Until this disc I knew only his Symphonic Suite for brass. The present recording of his Clarinet Concerto is most welcome. This is a rather serious and fairly substantial work in three movements exploiting the clarinet’s agility in the outer movements as well as its lyrical potential in the sombre slow movement: more of an elegy than a meditation. This superbly crafted work repays repeated hearings and is a welcome addition. It deserves to be heard more often.

Procter-Gregg’s music was completely unknown to me. I knew of him only as one of Maxwell Davies’ teachers in Manchester. His Clarinet Concerto is traditional in structure and idiom. The first movement sometimes seems to hark back to Brahms, but the other two movements - a beautifully lyrical Andante and an animated Allegro molto - are obviously closer to the 20th Century mainstream, neither reactionary nor progressive, but certainly enjoyable.

Ian Scott plays beautifully throughout; and all concerned seem to enjoy themselves enormously. I cannot but recommend this attractive collection of unfamiliar, but rewarding works that all deserve much more than the occasional hearing.

Hubert Culot

 

 

 



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