Child's Play - Kelly Johnson

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CHILD'S PLAY - Kelly Johnson (Clarinet) - Gail Novak (Piano) - Drew Irvin (Violin) - 898304002918 - Released: March 2011 - Potenza Music PM1014

1- Philip Parker - Merry Music
2- J. M. David - Distrocto
3- Philip Parker - Grooves
4- Rodney Rogers - Dance Duo
5- Philip Parker - Story Hour
6- Dejan Despic - Nine Dances, Op. 62
7- Eric Mandat - The Moon in My Window

This is yet another one of those recordings that prove there is no need for a big name producer or the financial backing of a prominent record label in order to put together a truly enjoyable disc. This CD is a private project planned from the ground up by Kelly Johnson, principal clarinetist with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Professor of Clarinet at the University of Central Arkansas. Along with financial aid from the University, commissioned chamber and solo clarinet compositions from colleagues, and the collaborative efforts of Gail Novak (Piano), Drew Irvin (Violin) and soprano Allison Stanford (Narrator), she has gathered together a group of musical pieces, world premieres no less, that not only should become standard curriculum learning material for all clarinetists, but can also be a pleasure to anyone who enjoys listening to clarinet centric chamber music.

From the jazzy (brings to mind Prelude, Fugue and Riffs by Bernstein) swagger of Grooves, to the characterful inventiveness of Story Hour, the technical demands of Nine Dances, and the boundless imagination of The Moon in My Window, Kelly Johnson certainly approaches the clarinet from every possible angle and in the process reveals this instrument's many different facets. Led by her infectious energy, Gail Novak and Drew Irvin aren't afraid to get their hands dirty and take full ownership of their individual parts, and create some top-notch ensemble playing. Add to that the wonderful character acting behind Allison Stanford's narrative lines in Story Hour and there is never a dull moment on this CD.

Stories, dances, levity, spunk, drama, fun and games ... Kelly Johnson certainly makes child's play of this music!

Jean-Yves Duperron - February 2012