Review of Son et Lumiere by Gordon Lewin, CASS
A CD of familiar fare played with brio and confidence by MP, possessed of an
enviable technique and a nimble tongue. The Debussy receives virtuoso
treatment, with it`s lyric poetry well contrasted with the Gallic scamperings of the Solo de Concours. The tone is warm and expressive, tho` sounding a trifle forced in fortissimo - (recording balance?). Poulenc and Saint Saens are played with panache and great assurance, and full opportunity is taken to explore the more virtuosic passages. Legato sections come over with a pleasing freedom of phrasing, as does the first of the Stravinsky Three pieces. From this point on it is flamboyance all the way. W. Josephs` Sonata, one of the most individually melodic and rhythmic works to appear in the clarinet lists of works in recent years, is interpreted in glittering style. The CD ends with impressively virtuosic performances of Caneval of Venezia, and Flight of B. Bee. These two technically demanding classics positively bubble with exuberance held under fine control. A CD of stature from a fine exponent of the instrument.
Review of Son et Lumiere June 2002 issue of \"The Clarinet\". ICA
International Clarinettists Association
Released in 1996, Son et lumiere features an excellent first
recording of Wilfred Joseph\'s attractive Sonata No. 2 for clarinet and
piano, and concludes with two virtuosic showpeices.
Brittish clarinetist Martin Powell, born in London in 1962, won a
scholarship at the age of 16 to study with Georgina Dobree. From 1981-85
he continued his study with Dobree at the Royal Academy of Music, where
he won the Geoffrey Hawkes Prize, the John Solomon Wind Soloist Prize,
and placed both first and second in the Nicholas Blake Ensemble Prize. He
was also awarded the Leslie Martin Scholarship and a major award from
the Ian Fleming Trust. His other teachers have included: Bill Ducker,
Richard Addison, Guy Deplus, Thea King and David Campbell. A runnerup in
the International Clarinet Congress Competition, Powell has performed in
Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Spain. He appeared as soloist with
the New English Orchestra performing Mozart\'s Concerto in Salzburg,
Seining and London, and in 1999 he was a finalist in the Haverhill
Sinfonia Soloist Competition. Pianist Stephen Robbins studied with Hamish
Milne and Alexander Kelly at the Royal Academy of Music. He holds a M.
Mus. degree from the University of Surrey.
The opening selection is a technically polished perormance of Claude
Debussy\'s Premiere Rapsodie. Powell plays with a well focused sound
throughout the instrument\'s range, adding just a hint of vibrato at
Andre Messager\'s Solo de concours, written for the Paris Conservatory\'s 1899
competition, is one of the more frequently performed
pieces of this genre. Much of this performance emphasizes technical
brilliance. The \"andante\" is beautifully played with a nice sense of
rubato. The cadenza is performed with exuberance, and the final \"allegro
Both Poulenc\'s Sonata (1962) and Saint-Saens\' Sonata (1921) are
given solid performances by clarinetist and pianist alike. Powell plays
with fine control and lyricism in the slow movements and remarkable
technical facility in the fast movements.
Igor Stravinsky\'s Three Pieces (1919) are given convincing
performances, although the brilliant final piece loses much of its
rhythmic drive and vigor because of the excessively fast tempo. The
appearance of an inexplicable piano chord at the end of the first line
of the second piece is certainly an error in editing the CD.
Wilfred Joseph\'s compelling Sonata No. 2 was composed in 1988 for
Martin Powell, who gave its first performance with pianist Stephen
Robbings at the Harrogate International Festival in 1990. Josephs\'
Sonata No. 1, Op. 148, composed only a few weeks before this work, was
also dedicated to Powell.
The works of Josephs (born Newcastle, England, 1927; died 1997)
include 12 symphonies, 22 concertos, overtures, chamber music, operas,
ballets, vocal works, and more than 200 scores for television and film.
his Sonata No. 2 (publishedby Lengnick in 1990) for clarinet in A is
approximately 12 minutes in length. Powell and Robbings fully capture the
charm of this appealing work in this recording. Together they bring out
the lyric beauty the opening \"moderato\" with its broad flowing lines,
the rhythmic inventiveness of the delightful \"intermezzo,\" and the
rhythmic drive of the concluding \"vivo leggiero.\" Martin Powell\'s
playing is at its best in this work. His tone is resonant and well
focused, the rhythm precise, and his high register playing is excellent.
The work is characterized by long phrases, perpetual motion effects, and
a scarcity of rests all handled expertly by Powell.
Powell exhibits a fine sense of hubato and virtuostic technical
ability in Giampieri\'s brilliant Il Carnevale di Venezia. The concluding
work, The Fight of the Bumble Bee, Transcribed by H.Wl Davis, is played
at breakneck speed and displays Powell\'s remarkable technical facility.
While the recorded sound is somewhat bright,the instruments are
nicely balanced and the overall quality is good. Program notes are
included. Martin Powell is a remarkable clarinetist and I recommend
Review in the Australian Clarinet and Saxophone, Volume 5 , Number 1 March
Son et Lumiere
Music Concertante MCCD1
Martin Powell - Clarinet
Stephen Robbings- Piano
The literal translation of this disc\'s title, Son et Lumiere, is sound and
light. Martin Powell set out to break the barriers of both when he considered
tempos for the recording. This is not to say that his metronome is permanently calibrated 10 notches above the rest of the world, for he is very good at sustaining interest and line at a slower pace, but he is not reserved when it comes to unleashing his formidable technique through liquidity of tonque and fingers. He is an artist of extremes, often striving toward the limits of dynamic range, tempo ( both slow and fast) and at one or two places, towards extremes of good taste - if such a thing can indeed be measured. For all these reasons I have grown to enjoy this disc, honouring it with repeated listening. The repertoire is a satisfying and mostly familiar compilation, including the Sonatas of Poulenc and Saint-Saens, the Premiere Rhapsodie and Solo de Concours from Debussy and Messager, Stravinsky\'s Three Pieces and the inherently flamboyant Il Carnevale di Venezia of Giampieri. Concluding the recording is Rimsky-Korsakoff\'s Flight of the Bumble Bee.
A special treat on this disc is the inclusion of Wilfred Joseph\'s Calrinet Sonata No 2 Op. 149. Josephs\' first sonata was written for Martin Powell in 1988. Like Brahms, Josephs loved the sound of the clarinet so much that he began work on a second sonata immediately. Sonata No.2 was prepiered in 1990. The first movement is beautifully enigmatic exquisite lyrical lines that interrupt a recurring darkness. The interplay between Powell and pianist Robbings is excellent. Powell displays some delicate articulation in the buoyant and playful second movement and movement three is infectious and charming.
There is on intriguing addition to the performance of Stravinsky\'s Three
Pieces for clarinet solo. Early in the second piece is a random and oddly placed piano chord which had me on the reverse button a number of times. A devilish image comes to mind of someone accidentally leaning on the keyboard during Powell\'s best take. Not for a second should this oddity overshadow Powell\'s playing, which is brimming with skill and character, a statement that could be made about his performance in general. He exhibits sensitive softer playing in the Debussy, Poulenc, Saint-Saiens and particularly the Josephs. At the other end, a strident tone was sometimes the result of pusing for mazimum contrast. This desire to push for extremes is exactly why this disc is appealing. The communication between the performers is evident even without visual confirmation and the inclusion of the wonderful sonata by Wilfred Josephs is reason enough to purchase this fine recording. - Neil McGregor