52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  


Some items
to consider

Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


Recordings of the Month


Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE

Enescu Ravel Britten

Debussy Images etc.

53 Studies on Chopin Études 1
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)



Che fai tù? - Villanelles

Cyrillus KREEK
The suspended harp of Babel

violin concertos - Ibragimova

Peteris VASKS
Viola concerto - Maxim Rysanov

The Complete Lotte Schöne




CD: Crotchet
Download: Classicsonline


Emma Johnson: Music for Clarinet and Piano
Sir John DANKWORTH (b 1927)
Suite for Emma (1987) [18:30]
Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)
Clarinet Sonata (1942) [11:18]
Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990)
Clarinet Sonata (1943) [21:07]
Nocturne (1926) [5:18]
Sir John DANKWORTH (b 1927)
Picture of Jeannie (1986) [4:57]
Emma Johnson (clarinet); John Lenehan (piano)
rec. 25 – 27 April 2008, Potton Hall, Westleton, Suffolk. DDD
NAXOS 8.572240 [61:09] 
Experience Classicsonline

John Dankworth has said that he has written, in his Suite for Emma, "the music I would like to hear Emma Johnson play." Suite for Emma is a five movement work written in a very old fashioned style with a bit of jazz thrown in, and it takes itself very seriously indeed. I cannot warm to this kind of music for it has no personality of its own – it's all far too reminiscent of too many other composers – especially, in this case, of the "cow pat" school, and the music is ultra-safe – never daring to try anything out of the ordinary. This would make a really good suite for young clarinetists at school who are looking for something slightly different to play at their end of term concert, but as a fully fledged work for the concert hall, it has far too much competition, and so much of that competition is better music. The Picture of Jeannie is a brief set of variations on Stephen Foster's I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair. It's very cute and clever but with nothing to grab one’s attention. I find it odd that as Dankworth, as a clarinetist himself, seems unable to vary the tonal palette of his own instrument for these compositions; it all sounds the same in its limited tone production, colour and emotional range. 

The Bernstein and Copland are much better pieces in every respect – and two of the works weren't even conceived for the clarinet!! Bernstein's Sonata is his opus one and a very assured piece it is. In two compact movements it has a lot to say and it says it succinctly and then moves on. Not a note is wasted in this work – there simply isn't time! The second movement shows exactly how a little jazz can really perk up a work which is already rich in rhythm – this is one of the many things missing in Dankworth's pieces – and the music really lives! Bernstein could have been a significant composer for the concert hall, but, in reality, his talents lay in front of an orchestra – but here, and in his Jeremiah Symphony which followed this work, we can see just what might have been. 

Chamber music isn’t what one would think of when the name of Aaron Copland is mentioned. The western ballets, the Symphonies, the Piano Variations and some of the shorter orchestral works all readily comer to mind, but chamber pieces? Copland wrote an handful of works for chamber ensembles; the early Vitebsk, for piano trio, the serial Piano Quartet - a work of rare beauty - and the Nonet for Strings seem to get more recordings than live performances, and, given the contemporary repertoire for violin and piano it is odd that Copland's Violin Sonata doesn't get played more often than it does. It is a lovely, lyrical, work, full of his open air style, with lots of rhythmic drive, and the kind of laid-back Americana we find in many of his works. Nearly 40 years after writing the piece, Copland reworked it for clarinet and piano and it makes a very fine Clarinet Sonata! Nowhere is one conscious of the fact that this is not original clarinet music – it simply falls so easily on the wind instrument. There is a lot of long breathed melody in this work and this is exactly the kind of thing which works so well on the clarinet, and that is one of the reasons why this version of the work is such a winner. Emma Johnson and John Lenehan realise the full stature of this work and give it a truly inspiring performance, it's worth the price of the disk for this performance alone. The little Nocturne was written in the 1920s as a companion piece to a Ukelele Serenade for violin and piano. Like the Violin Sonata, with its long melodies and distinctly bluesy sound, this makes perfect clarinet music. Johnson relishes the long lines really sings as if her man had done gone and left her. 

Some reservations then;  the playing is superb throughout – how could it not be when two such exciting and talented young players are at work – but the choice of repertoire left me unhappy for, as stated above, the Dankworth pieces, worthy though they are, are not in the same class as either the Bernstein or the Copland works. I can understand Johnson wishing to record these pieces for they were created for her, but sometimes one has to stand back and view the music to see if it really can hold its own in the context in which you wish to place it.

Bob Briggs


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.