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Fantasia - Martin - Audiophile Audition

07 August 2006
Audiophile Audition
John Sunier
4 Stars

This young Spanish clarinet virtuoso is clearly a pro; he already made a splash on Linn with his performance of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, and is first clarinet of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He also teaches at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and gives master classes in Spain.

His program is most attractive; the Poulenc and Debussy works are among my favorites featuring the clarinet. The opening Lutoslawski suite of five sections celebrates folk dances and songs from North Poland and was the last work on folk themes from the composer. The closing work after which the SACD is titled is from a versatile Spanish clarinetist, teacher, publisher, inventor and manufacturer of the mid-19th century. He developed his own series of Clarinet Methods to solve various acoustic and fingering problems. Romero's Fantasia is in the style of many works of that period which used familiar themes from operas by other composers as the subjects either for a set of variations, or in this case a medley of quotations of different tunes from the opera.

Martin's playing is beautifully phrased and simpatico with the mood of the various pieces. With the precise clarity and presence of the hi-res surround presentation plus his instrument's mellifluous timbre, one never becomes bored with the over an hour-long program. I recall sitting thru a fellow student's painful clarinet recital in college once; to me a clam on clarinet or recorder are among the most painful instrumental sound effects one could endure. No danger of that with this disc, let me tell you!

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