"The Mozart clarinet concerto is my favorite piece of music, and this recording may become the standard for me. I've had it in my car CD player for about a week and am struck each time I listen to it by how beautiful a recording this really is. Concerning the the Pay/Hogwood recording which has been the standard classic for several years: Of course it is a very nice recording, and will continue to be a third choice for me. (Second is the fantastic 60's recording I have on cassette and conducted by George Szell). However, it's never been my favorite, partly because the sticking of the keys on Mr. Pay's basset clarinet are so LOUD, but also because their seems to my ear to be little to no feeling in the playing. The version at hand is also played on a basset (read: period) clarinet, but especially in the middle movement, the feeling is overwhelming. The Beethoven concerto, originally for violin, is also outstanding and a real treat for clarinet lovers. There are things you can do on a violin you can't on a clarinet, but the whole thing has been transcribed by Pletnev, who went to great lengths to moderate the great length of the original violin line. I strongly recommend this CD."
Superlative performances of these sublime works
John McKenzie | Lancashire | 11/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Forget any reservations you may have regarding the transcription of Beethoven's masterpiece - it is truly wonderful, sounding both lyrical and beautiful on the clarinet. Michael Collins performs the definitive Mozart Clarinet Concerto. This is simply the greatest reading of this work that I have ever heard. If you only buy one cd in this lifetime, this has to be the one!"
Peter Prainito | Lombard, IL USA | 05/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have many recordings of Mozart's sublime Clarinet Concerto, and they're all wonderful. This reading by British clarinetist Michael Collins, accompanied by the Russian National Orchestra conducted by Mikhail Pletnev, is one of my favorites. Mr. Collins performs the concerto on a modern Basset clarinet which extends the instrument's range downward several notes. Mozart wrote his concerto for the Basset clarinet, and it really makes quite a difference when hearing those marvelous arpeggios runs taken from the lower-most regions of the instrument's range. Michael Collin's plays the concerto with tremendous feeling, and demonstrates a flawless technique. Kudos go to the Russian National Orchestra as well for their beautiful and spirited accompaniment.
The other work on this CD is an arrangement of Beethoven's Violin concerto (by conductor Mikhail Pletnev) transcribed for clarinet. To my knowledge this is the only recording available of the clarinet arrangement, which makes this CD even more treasured. Needless-to-say, in the hands of Michael Collins it's outstanding in every way. BTW, there is also an equally outstanding piano arrangement of Beethoven's Violin concerto on Naxos (#8554288) coupled with his Triple concerto. I'm happy to report that Beethoven's Violin concerto has been beautifully adapted to each incarnation. Highly recommended CD!!!!"
Wonderful Pieces to listen too!
Bohemian Boy | Plainfield, Illinois United States | 11/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mozart's clarinet concerto (Collins) certainly sounds better than Pay's "sticky key-pad" performance. The Beethoven violin concerto transcribed for clarinet sounds warm, relaxed and right at home. The violin concerto had to be rewritten slightly to allow Michael Collins to breathe while playing this piece! I believe Gramophone recommended this CD for the Mozart clarinet concerto. You know something, they were right......"