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Robert Plane


“Plane’s clarinet has an eloquent and expressive voice. He can be clownish, rude, barracking and sneering; he can weep, simper and smarm; he can joke, cackle and cheer. He can also produce whispered tone from nothing, bite the air with a chisel edge, roar low down like a didgeridoo or soar with the pure white sound of a cathedral treble.” The Times

 “A highly accomplished, indeed commanding performance of Finzi’s gorgeous Clarinet Concerto from Robert Plane. With his bright, singing tone and effortless technical mastery, Plane leaves a stylish impression …” Gramophone


Robert Plane’s career as a solo and chamber clarinettist is rich and varied. Concerto appearances in Europe, Asia and North America have included performances of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in Madrid with the City of London Sinfonia, Beijing with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and in the USA with the Virginia Symphony. A champion of new music as well as the classics, he has given the world premieres of concertos by Judith Bingham, Diana Burrell, Piers Hellawell and Mark Boden.
Rob has tirelessly pursued a particular passion for British clarinet music in concert and on disc, his Gramophone Award-winning account of Finzi’s Concerto and Gramophone Award-shortlisted Bax Sonatas being just two of a large collection of recordings of works by the great English Romantics.
He has performed and recorded with the Gould Piano Trio for thirty years, and their recording of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time to mark the composer’s centenary was hailed by BBC Music Magazine as the ‘finest modern recording’ of this epic masterpiece. They commissioned Huw Watkins to compose ‘Four Fables’ in 2018, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival which they direct together in Northumberland.
Rob has explored the clarinet quintet repertoire with a number of the finest string quartets, including the Skampa Quartet (Brahms live on BBC Radio 3 from St George’s, Bristol) and Elias Quartet (many appearances including Brahms and Bliss at Wigmore Hall), as well as concerts with the Mandelring, Marmen, Castalian, Maggini, Brodsky, Carducci, Sacconi and Callino Quartets.
Rob is clarinettist of Ensemble 360 and enjoys exploring chamber music of all kinds with them at their home in the Crucible, Sheffield and country-wide. He is also a member of Trio Meister Raro alongside violist Rachel Roberts and pianist Tim Horton.
Always keen to take on a challenge, Rob has performed Boulez’s epic ‘Dialogue de l’ombre double’ at Belfast Sonorities Festival in 2018, Manchester’s Stoller Hall in 2019 and Cardiff’s WhirlWinds Festival in 2022. Rob’s disc ‘Reawakened’ features concertos he himself unearthed by Iain Hamilton, Ruth Gipps and Richard Walthew, recorded with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and released in July 2020 by Champs Hill Records.
Rob’s most recent release was a disc of chamber music by Pamela Harrison which came out in February 2023 on Resonus Classics. His next album ‘Isotonic’, also with Resonus, features four of Rob’s commissions from the past twenty-five years, including the clarinet concertos of Diana Burrell and Mark David Boden, recorded with the BBC Philharmonic and due for release in summer 2023.
Rob was principal clarinet of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for over twenty years and has held the same position with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Royal Northern Sinfonia. A respected teacher and educator, he holds the post of Head of Woodwind Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

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