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CD of the Week: Richard Stoltzman: The Complete RCA Album Collection

Sony and RCA celebrate renowned American clarinetist Richard Stoltzman's 75th birthday with a collection of 40 CDs recorded over the course of his career.

Musicians are troubadours. They're always moving. And there's always something ahead -- next flight, next audience, next project. And so a surprising number of musicians almost never listen to their old recordings. Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman is like that -- he says he stays focused on what's coming.

But now he can't help but to look back because with his 75th birthday sneaking up on him this year, he's gotten a surprise present he'd never imagined: all 40 of his RCA, BMG, and Sony albums collected and packaged into one beautiful box.

His mind has begun spinning into older time zones, he says, as he considers the set. And he's started writing a blog. There are just so many stories!

Richard Stoltzman was born in Omaha, Nebraska and spent his early years in San Francisco and Cincinnati. He's now on the faculty of the New England Conservatory here in Boston. His life has been full of firsts: he gave the first clarinet recitals in the histories of both the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall. He was the first wind player to be awarded the Avery Fisher Prize.

He's crossed musical boundaries that he says "disappear in the waves of a clear clarinet tone." While he's worked with over a hundred orchestras, he's also mined for new sounds with Chick Corea, Mel Tormé, and Wayne Shorter -- and that's just the tip of the iceberg. His duo work with his wife Mika, a marimbist of preternatural gifts, is a loving part of his latest chapter. Over all this time, he's won millions of fans with his devotion to honest emotion and sheer discipline.

But you can't do what Richard Stoltzman has done without a very special brand of charisma -- and his is unique.  You can see it in these videos, and I hope you'll listen to my conversations with him where we dip into plenty of moments from the past four decades. Some of them make him cry -- and plenty provoke his infectious laugh.

From all of us at WCRB, Happy Birthday, Dick! And thank you.

Listen to Cathy's interview with Richard Stoltzman:

Part 1:

Part 2: 


Part 3: 


Watch videos of Richard Stoltzman:

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit ArkivMusic.