Iwan MÜLLER (1786-1854)
3 Fantasien, op.27 [18:47]
Ernesto CAVALLINI (1807-1874)
Fiori Rossiniani (Capriccio) [10:53]
Una Lacrima sulla Tomba dell'Immortale Rossini [4:53]
Stefano GOLINELLI (1818-1891)
2 Morceaux de Salon, op.124 [8:00]
Domenico LIVERANI (1805-1876)
2 Chants Religieux du 'Stabat Mater' di G. Rossini [12:44]
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Sonata no.3, for strings (clarinet), arr. Yona ETTLINGER (1924-1981) [12:38]
Fantaisie, for clarinet and piano (1829) [8:54]
Alessandro Travaglini (clarinet)
Christopher Howell (piano)
rec. Studio l'Eremo, Lessona, Italy, March 2010. DDD
SHEVA COLLECTION 029 [77:27]
Italian label Sheva certainly keep Christopher Howell busy: in March 2010, while he was recording this chamber disc with Alessandro Travaglini, he was also in the studio recording some of Charles Stanford's Irish folksong arrangements with flautist Gilberto Fornito (see review) and in a nearby church performing Samuel Wesley's organ music (review).
Sheva's production values came in for some sharp criticism in the latter of those reviews and elsewhere, but this recording thankfully gives relatively little cause for complaint. Sheva's producers' inexplicable tendency to chop off still resonating sound at the ends of tracks is still an issue on this release, but is rarely exasperating and does not affect every piece. True, there is an inconspicuous editing join about halfway through track three, and a more obvious one almost at the end of track four. There is, moreover, a more serious quality control issue at the end of the slow movement of the arrangement of Rossini's Sonata no.3, but generally speaking the listener is able to focus on - and unavoidably enjoy - this warm-hearted, clarinet-based tribute to Rossini by his contemporaries, who give some of the Italian master's great opera and, yes, choral tunes a charming and sometimes cheeky makeover.
The programme is rounded out with a recent arrangement of Rossini's Third Sonata for Strings, followed by his only Clarinet Sonata, a short but sweet four-movement work which he preferred to label a Fantaisie on account of the structural liberties it takes. Rossini's writing is so witty, so mouth-wateringly dazzling, this piece ought to finish off every clarinet recital by law.
Alessandro Travaglini gives a commendable, sparkling performance, particularly in the two virtuosic pieces by Cavallini, one of which, Fiori Rossiniani ('Rossinian Flowers'), is a harum-scarum farrago of Rossini melodies that deservedly gives its name to the CD. But best of all is Liverani's warm but outrageous skinning of Rossini's Stabat Mater, in which Travaglini does justice to the music of a clarinet master greatly admired by Rossini himself. Travaglini is very ably and always enthusiastically accompanied throughout by Christopher Howell.
The booklet notes are brief but adequate, written with affection by Howell, and the biographical notes ample. The track listing on the back cover of the disc is the only one there is, but gives enough detail. With a generous overall timing, this disc adds up to a fairly appealing package, most obviously for clarinet fans, marked down only for the handful of production lapses which, surely, Sheva will soon put right.
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk
A fairly appealing package, most obviously for clarinet fans.