Two firsts here--the long-awaited recording of Mikhail Pletnev's transcription of Beethoven's violin concerto for clarinet and Michael Collins' only recording to date of Mozart's clarinet concerto. With his most recent discs concentrating on contemporary repertory, including Elliott Carter's clarinet concerto
and John Adams' Gnarly Buttons
, Collins' foray back to the music of the late 18th and early 19th centuries is a most welcome addition to the catalogue.
Collins has held off recording the Mozart for the best part of two decades to avoid the inevitable Weber coupling, waiting rather for a more unorthodox combination of works--and you don't get more unconventional than the Beethoven. The demands of the lengthy opening movement are extreme and Collins handles them well. But it is in the second and third movements where the Beethoven gamble really pays off, Collins' melancholic playing in the former so moving as to warm even the coldest of hearts.
The performance of the Mozart was worth the wait. Pletnev and the Russian National Orchestra provide a rich and sensitive accompaniment; Collins matches this with effortless notes floating in the high register and beautiful reedy tones at the bottom of the range. A valuable new release. --Rebecca Agnew
CD ...Orch.Kv622/W/Michael Collins, Russian Nat.Orch.,Plet