Portraits: Works for flute, clarinet & piano by Chris Rogerson, Valerie Coleman, Guillaume Connesson, Rachmaninov, Paul Schoenfield and Philip Hammond

Reviewed on Fri 22 Sep, 2017

Anthony McGill (the New York Philharmonic’s principal clarinet), his sibling Demarre (a seasoned principal flute with several American orchestras) and Belfast-born pianist Michael McHale play with a nimble, nuanced reciprocity that belies their three-year-long partnership.

A new trans-Atlantic trio makes its debut with considerable aplomb in a programme that delights, stirs, moves and entertains in equal measure. Anthony McGill (the New York Philharmonic’s principal clarinet), his sibling Demarre (a seasoned principal flute with several American orchestras) and Belfast-born pianist Michael McHale – a name to watch – play with a nimble, nuanced reciprocity that belies their three-year-long partnership. For sheer contrast, start with Guillaume Connesson’s hyper-ventilated, amphetaminised Techno – Parade and Philip Hammond’s crystalline The Lamentation of Owen O’Neill, with its underplayed interaction between piano and flute cossetted by the warming breeze of the clarinet. Valerie Coleman’s Portraits of Langston interpolates Mahershala Ali’s reading of poems by Langston Hughes with evocative miniatures variously atomised, glowing and ebullient. McHale’s arrangement of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise is poetically delicate, Paul Schoenfield’s Sonatina variegated, fun and characterful. Detailed notes by Elinor Olin and a recording of well-framed, crisp clarity add to the pleasure.
–Michael Quinn