Classical Album of the Week: Beloved Melodic Works Arranged for Clarinet and Piano

Jul 27, 2020

There are two men of note named Michael Collins. One piloted the Apollo 11 command module to the moon and back. The other, the one we’re interested in here, plays the clarinet, was once the principal conductor of the City of London Sinfonia, and is featured in WRTI's Classical Album of the Week.

The album is the third volume of The Lyrical Clarinet, which elegantly translates well-known works not written for clarinet into showpieces for Collins and pianist Michael McHale, who also arranged most of them for clarinet and piano. 

The album begins gently enough with one of Claude Debussy’s most beloved works, “Claire de Lune” from his Suite Bergamasque. It slides gracefully into “Liebesleid” of Love’s Sorrow by Fritz Kreisler and bounces playfully between two Siciliennes, one by Gabriel Fauré and the other by the blind 18th- and 19th century composer Maria Theresia von Paradis.

Also featured are works by Mendelssohn, Brahms, Schumann, Franck, and Liszt.

The album was inspired by works from turn-of-the-20th-century Parisian music shops, which offered for the amatuer musician arrangements for clarinet and piano of many popular instrumental works. In the era before radio and recordings, such arrangements were found in many musical households.

Michael Collins has performed with chamber groups and colleagues all over the world. He has joined Martha Argerich, Joshua Bell, Mikhail Pletnev and Andras Schiff among others, and conducted The Academy of St. Martin-In-The-Fields, the London Mozart Players, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.