A first-rate journey of discovery through newly discovered clarinet music that deserves a place in the international repertoire, led by a master of the instrument.
Over a 25-year recording career, Robert Plane has made remarkable new discoveries of works by Bax, Holbrooke, Milford and others: here he turns his attention to lost concerto repertoire for his instrument, the clarinet.
This album showcases rediscoveries of works by celebrated composers who have become unjustly neglected; each work adding a distinctive and fascinating new voice to the genre of the British clarinet concerto.
Iain Hamilton’s concerto – a large-scale, RPS-Award-winning work by an admired composer – has been un-played for over 50 years, probably because the orchestral parts were mislaid after just a handful of performances; Ruth Gipps was a wonderful composer simply struggling to be heard in a male-dominated musical world; Richard H Walthew left his clarinet concerto in manuscript and un- orchestrated on his death, here sentitively and stylishly orchestrated by Alfie Pugh.
This album also features John Ireland’s much-loved Fantasy Sonata. A highly successful showpiece for the clarinet, an instrument Ireland was justifiably fond of, this is superbly effective in Graham Parlett’s orchestration for clarinet and strings, bringing its joyous pastoral character to the fore.
Rob has tirelessly pursued a particular passion for British clarinet music in concert and on disc, his Gramophone Award winning account of Finzi’s Concerto and Gramophone Award-shortlisted Bax Sonatas being just two of a large collection of recordings of works by the great English Romantics. He has performed and recorded with the Gould Piano Trio for over twenty five years, and their recording of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time to mark the composer’s centenary was hailed by BBC Music Magazine as the ‘finest modern recording’ of this epic masterpiece. He also appears on the Goulds’ recorded cycles of Beethoven and Brahms Trios and makes regular tours to the USA with them. They commissioned Huw Watkins to compose ‘Four Fables’ for them in 2018 in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival which they direct together in Northumberland. He looks forward to collaborating with the Elias String Quartet in Bliss’ Clarinet Quintet in 2020 and 2021.
Rob has explored the clarinet quintet repertoire with a number of the finest string quartets, opening BBC Radio 3’s ‘Brahms Experience’ with a live broadcast from St. George’s Bristol of the Brahms Quintet with the Skampa Quartet. He has given concerts in Germany and the USA with the Mandelring Quartet and at home in the UK with the Maggini, Carducci, Tippett, Brodsky, Dante and Sacconi Quartets. Rob has enjoyed a 25 year long relationship with the Royal Over-Seas League since winning the competition’s Gold Medal in 1992, highlights of which have included a recital tour of New Zealand and a gala performance of Bruch’s Double Concerto with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka in Colombo as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
Always keen to take on a challenge, Rob gave his first performance of Boulez’s ‘Dialogue de l’ombre double’ at the Belfast Sonorities Festival in 2018, a work he subsequently revived in Manchester’s Stoller Hall in 2019. His delving into unjustly neglected works has unearthed concertos by Iain Hamilton, Ruth Gipps and Richard Walthew which he subsequently recorded at Glasgow City Halls with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins. The resulting disc, ‘Reawakened’, was released by Champs Hill Records in July 2020. ‘Contrasts’, a disc of Hungarian repertoire for the same label, was praised by the Guardian as ‘a little gem’ on its release last year.
Rob is principal clarinet of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and has held the same position with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Royal Northern Sinfonia. He was recently appointed Head of Woodwind Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Martyn Brabbins was appointed music director of the English National Opera in 2016. An inspirational force in British music, Brabbins has had a busy opera career since his early days at the Kirov and more recently at La Scala, the Bayerische Staatsoper, and regularly in Lyon, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Antwerp. He is a popular figure at the BBC Proms and with many of the UK’s top orchestras, and regularly conducts top international orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Deutsches Symphonie- Orchester Berlin.
Known for his advocacy of new music and particularly of British composers, he has conducted hundreds of world premières across the globe. He has recorded over 120 CDs to date, including prizewinning discs of operas by Korngold, Birtwistle and Harvey. He was associate principal conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (1994–2005), principal guest conductor of the Royal Flemish Philhar- monic (2009–15), chief conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra (2012– 16) and artistic director of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music (2005– 07), and in 2016 was appointed visiting professor at the Royal College of Music.