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CHAN 10756
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CHAN 10756

Mozart/Copland/Kats-Chernin: Works for Clarinet and Orchestra

The Classical Shop
release date: January 2013

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2012


Swedish Chamber Orchestra

Michael Collins

Michael Collins

basset clarinet

Michael Collins



Orebro Concert Hall, Sweden


Rachel Smith

Ralph Couzens



Andrew Hallifax

Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos


Total Time - 66:08
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Concerto, KV 622 (1791)

  in A major - in A-Dur - en la majeur  
  for Clarinet and Orchestra  
1 Allegro 12:04
2 Adagio 7:17
3 Rondo. Allegro 8:21
 Michael Collins clarinet



Concerto (1947-48)

  for Clarinet and String Orchestra, with Harp and Piano  
  For Benny Goodman  
4 Slowly and expressively - Somewhat faster - Broader - Tempo I - [Somewhat faster] - [Tempo I] - Cadenza - 8:34
5 Rather fast - Trifle faster - Same tempo - Same tempo - Tempo I - With emphasis - Broaden 7:48


(b. 1957)
premiere recording

Ornamental Air (2007)

  for Basset Clarinet and Orchestra  
  Written for Michael Collins  
6 I Crotchet = 192 - 200 - Sudden tempo change. Minim = 126 - Tempo I - Crotchet = 100 - 10:15
7 II Minim = 80 (or slower) - Più mosso (Minim = 108) - [Very slow] 6:24
8 III Crotchet = 144 - Slower, ad lib. - [Piu mosso] 5:25
 Michael Collins basset clarinet

Michael Collins combines the roles of clarinet soloist and conductor as he leads the Swedish Chamber Orchestra in three works that chart the journey of the clarinet from Mozart’s late eighteenth-century Europe, via Aaron Copland’s 1940s America, to today’s classical scene with a piece written, for Michael Collins, in 2007 by the Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin. 
Mozart composed his Clarinet Concerto, just weeks before his death in 1791, for Anton Stadler, the first great clarinet virtuoso. Stadler performed the work on what today is known as the basset clarinet, which features additional low notes without compromising the higher register. Unfortunately, Mozart’s manuscript score has been lost. In recent years, however, editors and performers have made several attempts to determine Mozart’s original intentions, and the version recorded here represents one such reconstruction. The concerto has a quality of serene and resigned beauty, recognisable from Die Zauberflöte, and from Mozart’s Requiem. 
Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto was commissioned in 1947 by Benny Goodman, the most famous band leader of the swing era, who has been credited with having made jazz ‘respectable’. Goodman also had a second career as a classical clarinettist. He was eager to enrich the repertoire by inviting major composers to write for him, and Copland was happy to take on the challenge. 
Elena Kats-Chernin is one of Australia’s leading composers. Her Ornamental Air was written in 2007 in response to a commission from a group of orchestras including the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, with Michael Collins as the intended soloist. The score is modelled closely on the Clarinet Concerto by Mozart. Not only are the orchestral forces identical – two flutes, two bassoons, two horns, and strings – but the solo instrument is the basset clarinet, for which Mozart also wrote his concerto. Kats-Chernin’s writing here takes full advantage of the exceptionally wide range of the instrument, as well as its potential for both virtuosity and lyricism. 

“... In recent efforts, Collins has cultivated a cleaner sound to accompany his always impressive musicianship and technique, and his playing here is some his best. His timbre is clear and resonant, and while it naturally has a touch of British flavour, it is disciplined and colourful. The Mozart is beautiful, perceptive, and breathtaking; the Copland is intimate and exuberant; and the Kats-Chernin is urgent an raucous. His expressive risk-taking is enjoyable, too, from the joyful decorations in the Mozart to the sassy pitch-bending in the Kats-Chernin... The Swedish Chamber orchestra plays with seemingly effortless aplomb and professionalism, no matter the composer or the century.”

Patrick Hanudel – American Record Guide – May/June 2013

“It’s hard to know whether the star of this release is Mozart, Elena Kats-Chernin, Michael Collins or perhaps more simply. The clarinet itself. It doesn’t matter, because its a winner whichever way you look at it... The engineering by Chandos is excellent. This is a fascinating and genuinely important release.”
Phil Carrick – – 16 April 2013  

“...Throughout, Michael Collins is in his element, relishing every twist and turn of the music’s consistently imaginative invention ... Michael Collins is just as at home here [Copelands’s Concerto] as he is in the Mozart and Kats-Chernin, directing the Swedish Chamber Orchestra with idiomatic panache.”
Ivan March – Gramophone magazine – March 2013

“Mozart’s familiar Clarinet Concerto, played by Michael Collins on the extended, lower-note basset clarinet, receives a lively and expressive performance, with plenty of swing and sentiment. Collins’s range of colour and dynamics delight the ear, and his ornamentation and nimble note-finding have spontaneity on their side. The members of the Swedish Chamber orchestra provide vivid and characterful support...  The finale is high-kicking with a ruminative cadenza and even more sprinting in the dash for home during which Collins is amazing.”
Colin Anderson – – 16 February 2013

“Mozart’s late masterpiece really does deserve to be heard on the basset-clarinet, especially when the performance is as winning as here. Even more impressive is the performance of the Copeland concerto, which balances beauty and vitality to perfection ...”      ****
Guy Weatherall  - Classical Music magazine – February 2013

 “...There’s no performance of Mozart’s 1791 Clarinet Concerto I’d rather hear than this. Michael Collins performs on a basset clarinet, a modern counterpart of the instrument Mozart had in mind when he conceived the concerto ... The hub of Collins’s performance is the central Adagio which, as he sails towards a zone of blissful lyricism – body and instrument vibrating in, quite literally, perfect harmony – becomes a joy to witness. And that same lyrical nous serves Collins well during the opening movement of Copeland’s 1948 Clarinet Concerto...”

Philip Clark –Sinfini – January 2013

 “...Collins is better integrated with the orchestra than virtually any of his predecessors ... The sense of spontaneous, organic interplay between clarinet and orchestra is most welcome ... Few recordings on either period or modern instruments manage this interplay as well – and few orchestras, period or modern, manage a collective sense of phrasing as convincing as the Swedish Chamber Orchestra here, making this a strong recommendation. The ravishing opening pages of the Copeland are given their full quota of swoon and the collective phrasing of the orchestral strings is consistently excellent - again the chamber-music qualities of this performance are a particular delight... Collins proves a strong and committed advocate for the work...”

Carl Rosman – International Record Review – January 2013

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