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Steve Arloff
MusicWeb International, July 2013

Benny Goodman is the inspiration behind this disc too since he was the person who caused most of these compositions to be written as their commissioner. Clarinettists have had good cause to thank him ever since as these works are pearls in 20th century clarinet repertoire. What they share is a thorough exploration of all the wonderfully evocative and virtuosic possibilities of this most charismatic of instruments.

All the works on this disc are absolutely fabulous and each of them is a quintessential representative of its creator. If one had to guess who they were it would be pretty obvious in almost every case, apart perhaps from Morton Gould’s since he is less well known than the others.

The entire disc was a very neat idea and the unifying theme of Benny Goodman has resulted in a disc that presents some really wonderful works for clarinet that will give endless enjoyment to the listener. All the instrumentalists are first class but naturally one must highlight the contribution of the clarinettist Julien Hervé whose technique is both stunning and apparently effortless. It has a gorgeously rich tone and a clarity of sound that is quite breathtaking at times.

It is difficult to praise this disc highly enough as anyone who listens to it will find to their great delight and lasting pleasure. © MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2013

Don’t be put off by the disc’s sleeve or its trendy title, the CD simply containing some of the most popular 20th century classical works for clarinet and piano. Benny Goodman’s name is used as the link, Francis Poulenc having promised Goodman the first performance of his Clarinet Sonata which took place just over two months after the composer’s death. Yet stylistically it is a long way from Goodman, Poulenc having in mind the two French musicians who had worked with him on the score. Leonard Bernstein’s Clarinet Sonata - his first published work - has no connection whatsoever with Goodman, though seven years later Bernstein dedicated the Prelude, Fugue and Riffs to Goodman and his jazz band. Neither has the Gershwin score any connection, the Three Preludes being a 1987 clarinet and piano transcription by James Cohn of the original piano score. The same lack of connection continues with Stravinsky’s Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet written as a ‘thank you’ present for the financial help given to him from an amateur clarinettist. The disc’s first piece that really connects to Goodman comes from Morton Gould with eight short mood pieces for clarinet and double bass, Benny’s Gig. And finally Bartok’s Contrasts for clarinet, violin and piano composed for Goodman, Szigeti and Bartok trio, their benchmark recording available on Naxos 8.111343…[Julien Herve] produces a creamy tone, as we hear in the Bartok, and elsewhere he is partnered by a fine pianist in Jean-Hisanori Sugitani. In sum, an unusual collection of works that will delight clarinet enthusiasts. © David’s Review Corner

Franck Mallet

Julien Hervé shows the extent of his skills (…) with his safe, refined and dancing sound…his penetration between tenderness and gravity © Classica

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