Ever since winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition in 1984, Emma Johnson has scarcely been out of the limelight, and has managed to carve out a distinguished career as a soloist and chamber musician.
This collection of pieces for clarinet and piano (in which she is joined by the admirable John Lenehan), highlights works by jazz-inspired composers, thought that doesn't mean that these are in any way `crossover' (yeauch!) pieces.
John Dankworth is a man of many talents: not only a performer of note in both classical and jazz fields, but also a composer of delicacy and wit, and a consummate jazz arranger. His `Suite for Emma' is delightful music, with an appropriate jazz tinge, written with a clear understanding both of the performer and the instrument, whilst his wistful `Picture of Jeannie'- a delicate expansion of a Stephen Foster song- has almost a Vaughan Williams pastoral feel too it.
Bernstein's Clarinet Sonata is positively restrained, compared with his prelude Fugue and Riffs, but shows there's still room for the contemplative in his repertoire.
Completing the programme is Copland's own arrangement of his Violin Sonata No.1, which does not suffer in the slightest for its transference to the clarinet. In fact that sparse, yet lyrical timbre works well with this instrument (as similarly demonstrated in his Nocturne, yet another arrangement).
Emma Johnson has always emphasised the smooth and melodic side of the clarinet over the more raucous and extrovert side, and this repertoire works extremely well for her. John Lenehan is the `ne plus ultra' of accompanists, ensuring that the duo gels perfectly to produce a fine release.