European Adventure
Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006)
Sonatina for clarinet and piano Op.29 (1951) [8:45]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Première Rhapsodie for clarinet and piano (1910) [8:38]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Three Pieces for clarinet solo (1919) [3:58]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Clarinet Sonata in E flat major Op.120 No.2 (1894) [22:53]
Donato LOVREGLIO (1841-1907)
Fantasia da Concerto, based on motives from Verdi’s La Traviata, for clarinet and piano [12:07]
Jennifer Showalter (clarinet)
Joel Clifft (piano)
rec. June 2006, Bridges Hall of Music, Claremont, CA
CD#1001 [56:49]
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Jennifer Showalter has been principal clarinettist of many Californian and other orchestras and is now Adjunct Professor at Azusa Pacific University.
Her showcase CD is entitled ‘European Adventure’. She visits Britain to pursue Malcolm Arnold’s Sonatina, a work written in 1951 for Frederick ‘Jack’ Thurston. It’s a truly sparky work but only when you ignite the paper and retire the requisite distance. Timidity won’t wash. The virtuoso element is really reserved for the furioso finale but throughout vitality is needed. Jennifer Showalter and Joel Clifft make a decent stab but they’re just under the tempo too much and there’s a lack of colour in Showalter’s tone. Tonally she’s thicker than the more incisively articulated playing of Michael Collins who, with Ian Brown, presents the Sonatina marvellously on Hyperion.
Debussy’s Première Rhapsodie is a thoughtful, well balanced reading, but compared with the best—let’s take Reginald Kell’s famous old American Decca recording—lacks requisite tension and legato phrasing. The Brahms’s E flat major Sonata suffers from a too autumnal approach. I’m afraid I found it, for all the musicianship, rather undernourished. She plays the Stravinsky Three Piece rather as solo etudes, which may be the way some do it, but I prefer Kell’s musicality, his shaping of phrases. By comparison, in spite of her speed, I find her too brusque—something of a change as elsewhere in her programme I find her consistently too slow. Donato Lovreglio’s Fantasia da Concerto on themes from La Traviata is surely worth disinterring every once in a while. It’s full of the expected roulades and bravura. It’s a work that calls for bel canto lyricism, panache and extroversion and Showalter is a good guide, though her performances is perhaps rather too subdued.
The CD has been well recorded and decently annotated and is available via Phoenix, as above.
Jonathan Woolf
A good guide, though performances perhaps rather too subdued.