Pure bliss at Sunday Series

Julian Bliss
Julian Bliss

Old Swan Hotel Harrogate International Sunday Series

Julian Bliss

Clarinet virtuoso Julian Bliss gave the penultimate recital of this year’s Harrogate International Sunday Series.

Born in 1989, as a child prodigy he studied in the USA and later with Sabine Meyer in Germany returning to the UK to continue his studies and diversify at the Royal Academy of Music.

His duo partner on Sunday morning was pianist Robert Bottriell and they began with Martinu’s Sonatine. In three sections the score had his personal harmonic style and subtle rhythm although he was influenced by 20th century French musicians.

Romanian composer Ola’s contemporary Sonata for unaccompanied clarinet sounds innovative, based on folklore it is unusually stark and haunting.

In contrast the two following pieces showed Julian Bliss and Robert Bottriell playing in lyrical style. The first, Bernstein’s early clarinet Sonata which had faint jazz references and secondly, Horovitz expressive Sonata. Of particular note the second movement, Lento, its languid singing melody showing the soloists’ spontaneity, lyrical playing at its best.

Robert Bottriell’s skills as a pianist were evident in Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsody with the constantly changing speeds and dynamics he had to anticipate.

The final item, Weber’s concert piece in bravura style, Grand Duo Concertante. Cascades of notes, intricate phrasing and changing tonal colours required expert technical control from both soloists and their ensemble playing was masterly.

Lots of enthusiasm and panache throughout the recital from a brilliant clarinettist.

Dr Mary Perrin