Review by wehecht November 15, 2013 (8 of 9 found this review helpful)
|This recording certainly must be the first to owe its existence to the fortuitous circumstance of composer, conductor, and soloist patronizing the same hairdresser. Howard Blake may be famous in Britain due to the Snowman, whether animated or courtesy of Sadler's Wells, but he's not exactly a household name elsewhere in the world. The Marriners of course are. Household names, that is. So what exactly do we have here? In a nutshell three wind concertos and a wind Octet, the longest of which, the clarinet concerto, lasts a little more than 22 minutes, the whole collection only slightly more than 68 minutes.
Not exactly the Bruckner and Mahler symphonies so beloved of most recording companies. But what a joyful 68 minutes it is! While the liner note's comparison of Blake's melodic gift to Mozart's may be more than a little far fetched (the other comparison, to Blake's teacher Howard Ferguson is entirely more apt) it's not so ridiculous to say that this very entertaining music can fill a place much like the divertimenti and serenades of Mozart's time, and fill it very well. I was thoroughly delighted.
The performances are of a piece with the music, high spirited and heartfelt as required. The recording is first rate, with special kudos to Erdo Groot for the very realistic rendering of the balance between soloists and orchestra.
And just to show that Mr. Blake isn't entirely unknown on this side of the Atlantic, if Pentatone would like to record his violin concerto (the Leeds) I'll be among the first in line to buy several, one for me, and others for my friends who love the Barber and Korngold concertos. Now if only my hairdresser had a wine bar on premise (it's apparent from the photos that Jean Marie Haute Coiffure of London does).
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