Sunday, May 2nd, 2010 - Acton Parish Church
On Sunday, May 2nd, I was very fortunate to be in the audience for Marc Naylor's recital of works for Basset Clarinet and Piano at Acton Parish Church. Dr. Naylor was playing a programme of works from the time of the great Viennese clarinettist, Anton Stadler. Stadler was responsible for extending the lower range of the clarinet, and it was for this basset clarinet that Mozart wrote his great Quintet and Concerto.
Marc began by performing a period arrangement of the clarinet quintet (Stadler Quintet) for basset clarinet and piano, which was published in 1802 and entitled Grande Sonata (perhaps Stadler Sonata would be more appropriate as a title?). This is a very effective way of performing the Quintet, and Dr. Naylor's amazing command of his instrument was breathtaking, as was his beautiful singing tone. Accompanied very sensitively throughout by pianist Karen Newby, this was a performance which in the opinion of this reviewer could not be bettered.
This was followed by a sublime performance of the Adagio from Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, probably the most beautiful slow movement in the whole clarinet repertoire, this performance really exhibited the lush lower range of the basset clarinet. Marc held the audience in the palm of his hand and gave a performance of great warmth and emotion.
After such an intense performance, we were treated to a beautiful performance of a Mozart Piano Sonata by Karen Newby. It was a light airy piece, and showed Mozart in a less serious mood as Karen charmed the audience with her warmth and thorough understanding of Mozart's music.
To finish the recital, Marc returned to play one of his own compositions - a Suite of Waltzes for basset clarinet. As Marc explained to us, Anton Stadler wrote several works (now sadly lost) which he played regularly at his recitals. It was in this tradition that Marc performed his beautiful waltzes, which used every register of the basset clarinet to great effect. The Suite ended with an exciting jazz waltz, proving that the basset clarinet is definately here to stay.
I was very glad to have made the acquaintance of this wonderful instrument, and of this incomparable performer. Dr. Naylor is a powerful advocate of the basset clarinet, encouraging composers to include it in new works. His instrument is a hybrid clarinet based on a Leblanc basset clarinet body with newly designed lower extension,bell and tuning barrel, made by instrument maker Martinelli & Co. This is then, a modern representation of Anton Stadler's clarinet, and I can only recommend that if you are given the chance to hear Dr. Marc Naylor in performance, you should not miss it!