Christopher Gunning Concertos – Enjoyable and Engaging

In the liner notes, Christopher Gunning wrote the following.  “My aim has been to provide the soloist with something enjoyable yet technically challenging to play.” I’d say he also provided the audience with something enjoyable and engaging to listen to.

This release collects three concertos that show Gunning hits what he aims for. The performances are all first-rate, and with good reason. Each work is performed by the soloist Gunning wrote it for. And Gunning himself conducts the orchestra.

Of course, there’s a consistency in style. Yet each concerto has its own distinctive character. Part of it comes from the soloist who inspired the work, and some from the instrument.

Flutist Catherine Handley performs the Concertino for Flute and Small Orchestra. The solo part is quite agile, leaning into Handley’s strength. And it also has a light-hearted feel, as — according to Gunning — befits her personality.

Michael Whight is the principal clarinetist for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He commissioned the Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra. Gunning pushes the limits of tonality in places. It gives the work a more serious and intense character than the Flute Concertino.

Guitarist Craig Ogden and Gunning collaborated on many film scores. It was Gunning who proposed writing a concerto for his colleague and friend.

The subtitle “Requerdos do Mallorca” is a nod to the Spanish origin of the instrument. There are traces of Spanish music in the work. But the concerto is mostly cosmopolitan in nature.

A fine addition to Signum’s ongoing series of Gunning recordings. Christopher Gunning is an important film composer. These releases show him equally at home in the concert hall.

Christopher Gunning
Concertino for Flute and Small Orchestra
Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra
Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra
Catherine Handley, flute; Michael Whight, clarinet; Craig Ogden, guitar
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Christopher Gunning, conductor
Signum Classics

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