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Em Marshall
Albion Magazine Online, January 2009

This is a delightful compilation of English works for clarinet, played very well indeed by John Bradbury accompanied by James Cryer. It opens with a surprisingly languid work by the usually bouncy Edward German, which is followed by a suitably brooding performance of Bax’s Sonata. Each of the Edwin Roxburgh Four Wordsworth Miniatures is preceded by a slightly prosaic spoken introduction, which the works nonetheless depict effectively; the real joy, however, is the performance of Finzi’s well-loved, tuneful Five Bagatelles. The ensuing Hurlstone Four Characteristic Pieces are deftly-composed, interesting works, as are the charming little miniatures by William Lloyd Webber. The disc concludes with Bliss’s rather sombre Pastoral. There are fine performances of some real gems on this release, which is highly recommended to those who enjoy clarinet music.

Michael Cookson
MusicWeb International, August 2008

Thumbs Up

Naxos has assembled an attractive collection of English clarinet works that are predominantly in a late-Romantic vein…This Naxos disc is a splendid achievement and clarinet soloist John Bradbury, supported by James Cryer, make a strong case for this collection of English clarinet music; much of which is rarely heard. I especially enjoyed Hurlstone’s delightful Four Characteristic Pieces and Finzi’s Five Bagatelles are sublime.

Frank Behrens
Brattleboro Reformer, August 2008

…this CD is worth the hearing. And I thank Naxos for the chance to hear what modern composers are doing to the old formats…

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2008

This highly enjoyable release of music by English composers through the 20th century presents many gems. There is the sad promise that Four Characteristic Pieces show for the gifted composer William Hurlstone, appointed professor at London’s Royal Academy of Music in 1905 only to die the following year aged thirty. It is quintessentially English when such a style was only just beginning. There are tracks of salon music, Edward German’s gentle Romance setting the scene for two pieces by William Lloyd-Webber, the distinguished educationalist and father of Andrew, today’s most successful composer of musicals. In more serious mood we have Bax’s two-movement Sonata from 1934, a score that perfectly explores the instrument, the finale requiring considerable agility. From modern-day composers comes Edwin Roxburgh’s unaccompanied Four Wordsworth Miniatures, short and highly descriptive pieces, and Paul Patterson’s modern look at a Soliloquy. Better known are the exquisite Five Bagatelles by Gerald Finzi, with Bliss’s deeply elegiac Pastoral composed shortly after his brother’s death in the First World War making a rather sad end to the disc. The soloist is John Bradbury, the long-serving principal of the BBC Philharmonic. Avoiding those squeaky sounds now so beloved of the so-called virtuosos of the instrument, Bradbury produces some of the most elegant and creamy smooth playing you are ever likely to hear, floated pianissimos of real quality. Better known as a major concert organist, James Cryer, is Bradbury’s long standing and estimable piano accompanist, his playing always highly responsive while offering a positive contribution that pushes tempos along.

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