The Clarinet

Wind Blown: Sonatas for Wind Instruments by Peter Hope comes from the Divine Art label (DDA 25137) and is available for purchase as a digital download through iTunes or as a CD at www.divineartrecords.com. Peter Hope (b. 1930) is a new and welcome discovery, but his biography suggests his music is more familiar than his name, especially for those residing in the United Kingdom. BBC TV News used his music for over a decade as its theme music. Hope frequently arranged for the BBC Concert Orchestra and artists such as Jose Carreras, Kiri te Kanawa and Jessye Norman. His compositional voice is accessible and self-described as “unashamedly tonal.” This recording, his first complete disc of compositions, contains sonatas for oboe, clarinet, bassoon and recorder. In addition, there are two chamber works for unusual combinations: one for recorder, clarinet and piano and one for speaker and recorder.

The clarinetist is Thomas Verity, principal second and E-flat clarinet in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Throughout Hope’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Verity performs with a focused and vocal sound that is complex and rich in overtones. This is especially noticeable in the upper clarion and altissimo registers, with excellent intonation throughout the range of the instrument. He phrases every passage with conviction, which is a delight to hear. Pianist Simon Passmore, director of music at St. Ann’s Church in Manchester, joins Verity for this recording.

Hope structures his sonata in three contrasting movements. Verity spins beautiful, lyrical phrases over Passmore’s supportive accompaniment in the first movement titled “Moderato.” The second movement, “Vivace,” contrasts as it is largely “conversational.” Listeners should notice Verity has admirably polished technique – his rendition, executed with apparent ease, generates excitement. The closing movement, “Freely, Allegro,” includes elements of klezmer style, evident from Hope’s choice of modes, dance-like music and energetic portamentos! Despite all the exuberance in this movement, it concludes in a poignant, reflective manner.

Tallis Remembered, written for the unusual instrumentation of recorder, clarinet and piano, originated as a work for violin, recorder and piano. John Turner joins Verity and Passmore for this chamber work, which is a theme and variations written in response to Wendy Cope’s poem Tallis’s Canon. This charming, smallscale work provides clarinetists the rare opportunity to collaborate with a recorder in 21st century repertoire.

—Christopher Nichols