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Clarinet Fantasies (PFCD078) £12.50/£17.50

20th Century British Works for Clarinet and Piano, performed by Nadia Wilson, clarinet, and Martin Butler, piano


Arnold Bax: Clarinet Sonata in D Major
I. Molto moderato
II. Vivace
Joseph Horovitz: Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano in B Flat Major
I. Allegro calmato
II. Lento, quasi andante
III. Con brio
Martin Butler: Barlow Dale: Four Characteristic Pieces
I. Barlow Dale
II. Inspector Merlin
III. Miss Honeyflower
IV. Asiam Rex
John Ireland: Fantasy-Sonata for Clarinet and Piano

Clarinet Fantasies CD

“This is a highly enjoyable recording! The two artists match technical excellence with serious attention to various musical styles. I very much appreciate their performance of my Sonatina.” Joseph Horovitz, 2018.

This album boasts the world première recording of Martin Butler’s 1977 work 'Barlow Dale: Four Characteristic Pieces'. It was through these pieces that Nadia and Martin first struck up a conversation, which led to their lasting friendship and working together as a duo. Each character is a cat who features in his aunt, Ruth Siverns’s published book about the eponymous cat-detective, Barlow Dale, and is a parody amalgam of Sherlock Holmes, James Bond and Dr Finlay’s Casebook. The detective hero, Barlow Dale, is aided by bumbling police cat Inspector Merlin and smart secretary Miss Honeyflower, with their wits pitted against the dashing black criminal mastermind, Asiam Rex.

Composer and pianist, Martin Butler, said: ‘I never thought that these four pieces I wrote when I was seventeen would catch on in the way they did! Two clarinettists played them with me a few times, but I had no idea that one of them had not only kept the scores but had been passing them on to his students – including Nadia. I am thrilled not only to be playing them again, but also to be laying them down on disc for the first time.’ Clarinettist, Nadia Wilson, said: ‘Ever since Martin and I met and started performing as a duo together, it has been our aim to make the premiere recording of his ‘cat pieces’ (as they have come to be known). It was then a natural choice to complete the album with a programme of all British clarinet repertoire and the pieces on the CD are all personal favourites of ours.’

The album also includes Arnold Bax’s 'Clarinet Sonata in D Major', the 'Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano in B flat Major' by Joseph Horovitz, and John Ireland’s 'Fantasy-Sonata for Clarinet and Piano'. Nadia Wilson continues: ‘I love all of Bax’s music; there is a romanticism, surrealism and folk-like quality mixed with Celtic mysticism and chromatic twists and turns that is so unique to his music. The Ireland is a classic British masterpiece for clarinet and piano and was an obvious choice for the CD; it’s a real duo with virtuosic, exciting and varied writing for both instruments, creating vivid sound worlds that envelop the listener. The Horovitz is just lots of fun! It’s full of humour and vitality and is always a favourite with audiences. The second movement is, in my opinion, some of the most beautiful, lyrical writing for the clarinet.’

Nadia Wilson

Nadia Wilson
Nadia pursues a versatile career as a freelance orchestral and chamber clarinettist, and theatre musician both in the UK and abroad. Her playing has included the Halle, Royal Philharmonic and Northern Ballet Theatre orchestras, and successful west end shows including American in Paris, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Wicked, with tours taking her as far afield as China, Beirut and the Seychelles. In addition to her duo with Martin Butler, Nadia is a founder member of the prizewinning London Myriad Ensemble. With these two ensembles, she has performed on BBC Radio 3 and at venues such as the Purcell Room, St. Martin in the Fields and 11 Downing Street. Nadia is also a passionate teacher and has co-ordinated education projects in both the UK and in Kenya.

Martin Butler

Martin Butler
Martin is a composer, pianist and Professor of Music at Sussex University. He studied with Anthony Gilbert at the RNCM, Paul Lansky and Milton Babbitt at Princeton and with Luciano Berio. His music is widely performed and broadcast both in the UK and abroad. He has written for the BBC Proms, English National Opera (A Better Place, 2001), London Sinfonietta, Schubert Ensemble, and the Cheltenham and Presteigne festivals. In 1998-9 he was the first composer-in- residence at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. He is a co-director of Club Inégales and is pianist with its innovative ensemble, Notes Inégales.