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Chamber Music - Released April 6, 2018 | Chandos

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Concertos - Released January 3, 2012 | Chandos

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Chamber Music - Released October 26, 2010 | Chandos

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The Virtuoso Clarinet, promises the title of this album, and few could argue that it does not deliver: the blazing runs of the Italian pieces here stretch the instrument to its limits, and clarinetist Michael Collins doesn't miss a step. Look no farther than the variations in Alamiro Giampieri's Il carnevale di Venezia, a thoroughly retrospective work that was composed in 1948 but looks back to the traveling virtuoso days of the 19th century. The other Italian work, Donato Lovreglio's Fantasia da concerto su motivi de "La traviata" de G. Verdi, Op. 45, represents a different strain of 19th century music, the popular operatic transcription. Both of those are unusual works, and perhaps an even greater feat than Collins' sheer technical mastery is the digging he undertook to put together an entertaining program that showcases not only virtuosity, but virtuosity of various kinds. Some of these pieces are known to wind students, but they've rarely been heard together as they are here, and a work like André Messager's Solo de concours (Competition Solo) gains from being surrounded by works that exploit the clarinet in a different way. Most of the music is originally for clarinet (the arrangement of Milhaud's Scaramouche, Op. 165b, for clarinet and piano is the composer's own), and the two transcriptions, of Gershwin's Three Preludes and Rachmaninov's Vocalise, each add something to the clarinet vocabulary on display. With suitably circumspect accompaniment from Piers Lane, superb engineering from Chandos, and informative booklet notes (in English, German, and French), this is a recital of instrumental fireworks that anyone might enjoy.
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Duets - Released February 1, 2011 | Chandos

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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Chandos

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Classical - Released October 2, 2012 | Chandos

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Classical - Released February 4, 2014 | Chandos

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Classical - Released March 6, 2012 | Chandos

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Chamber Music - Released July 7, 2017 | Chandos

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Chamber Music - Released June 3, 2016 | Chandos

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Classical - Released March 25, 2016 | Chandos

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Classical - Released January 1, 2000 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | Wigmore Hall Live

Clarinetist Michael Collins' name is virtually synonymous with performances at Wigmore Hall, so this live performance at the famed London concert venue is natural. Although the literature chosen for this album demonstrates Collins' penchant for chamber music collaboration, he is most certainly the star of the two works, and rightfully so. The album opens with Schubert's Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (Shepherd on the Rock) with soprano Ailish Tynan and violinist Malcolm Martineau. Although this work, one of Schubert's last, is not given top billing on the program, it is by far the more successful. Interplay between the three artists is consistently elegant and all three contribute equally to the word painting in this profound work. The "big piece" on the album is Schubert's Octet, heavily modeled after Beethoven's Septet. Unlike the song that precedes it, the members of the octet do not perform together with as much unity and sophistication. Notoriously difficult for the matching of intonation and sound quality, this performance of the Octet is no different. Although Collins' playing is quite solid, there are frequent intonation problems between him and first violinist Isabelle van Keulen. The sound of the double bass is quite muffled and, at times, completely absent. Musically, the performance is quite satisfying; the rather long second-movement Adagio is kept moving and interesting and the finale is spirited and jaunty. Still, the highlight of this album is certainly the Shepherd on the Rock; listeners may find superior alternatives for the octet elsewhere.
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Classical - Released January 27, 2015 | Chandos

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