Iain Hamilton’s Clarinet Concerto, written when this major 20th century Scot was still a student, provided a beefier contrast. It demonstrated a much softer Hamilton to the austere complexities of his later works, yet this driving performance, featuring the high-octane playing of clarinettist Robert Plane, never sat still. With nods to Walton, Bartok and Britten, there was poeticism and languid subtlety, rumbustious dance and venomous spit.
The Scotsman, April 2023 (Iain Hamilton Clarinet Concerto concert performance with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins)

Hamilton’s early concerto proved an eye-opener for those more familiar with the acerbic rigour that dominates much of his later music. Soloist Robert Plane had the full measure of the piece, packing his delivery with physical vitality, athletic virtuosity, and where called for, sweet lyrical charisma.
Vox Carnyx, April 2023 (Iain Hamilton Clarinet Concerto concert performance with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins)

Hamilton’s early concerto proved an eye-opener for those more familiar with the acerbic rigour that dominates much of his later music. Soloist Richard Plane had the full measure of the piece, packing his delivery with physical vitality, athletic virtuosity, and where called for, sweet lyrical charisma.
The Herald, April 2023 (Iain Hamilton Clarinet Concerto concert performance with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins)

Robert Plane paid close attention to the sound he was making in the hall, and his ‘birdsong’ really grew until it filled the whole space. But just as his sound could grow infinitely large, so his quiet moments could be so infinitesimally small that one really had to strain one’s ears to hear the sound, making it all the more exquisite. Hearing his solo was a wonderful experience.
Seen and Heard International, November 2022 (Quartet for the End of Time, Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre, London November 2022)

‘Robert Plane is a superb performer. He has a refined tone, rock-solid rhythm, excellent intonation and musicality, and impeccable articulation.’ The Clarinet, the journal of the International Clarinet Society, September 2021

‘Gentle melancholy suffused the Adagietto espressivo, moving into bleak elegy, and the final Allegro energetico was mostly full of gaiety, although here again some shadows fell. The quintet explores a complex emotional landscape, which the players traversed with expressive depth and eloquence.’ The Strad, November 2020  (Bliss Clarinet Quintet with Elias String Quartet, Wigmore Hall)

‘Whether gurgling with rhetorical truculence or sinking into tenderly melancholic sighs, Plane has the [Hamilton Clarinet Concerto’s] full measure, benefiting from a recording balance that puts the soloist first, though the acoustic still leaves plenty of room for the spirited splendours of Martyn Brabbins’s Scottish troops. All told, a thrilling rediscovery from an unfairly neglected composer.’ BBC Music Magazine, Geoff Brown, August 2020 (‘Reawakened’, Champs Hill Records)

‘This next piece features the orchestra’s superb Principal Clarinettist Robert Plane. He makes one of my favourite orchestral clarinet sounds of any orchestra, anywhere really, very smooth and subtle and deeply musical’ Kate Molleson, December 2018 (Broadcast of Mozart Clarinet Concerto from National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing on BBC Radio 3, Afternoon Concert)

‘Beatson, Higham and Plane brought a Wagnerian muscularity to their lively and dramatic interpretation of Brahms Trio in A minor. The musicians got the balance between the instruments just right as they surfed the waves of this restless and ravishing music with aplomb.’
The Scotsman, July 2018 (Music at Paxton)

‘The biggest cheers were undoubtedly heard for the world première of the Clarinet Concerto by Mark David Boden…Robert Plane, like the composer an enthusiastic marathon runner, threw himself into his athletic lines with glee and abandon, making light of the many high-flying passages which would have reduced many players to a squawking frenzy.’
Seen and Heard International, March 2018

‘By way of invoking common ground, Boden homed in on their shared passion for running in movements entitled Adrenaline, Isotonic, Threshold and Hypertension.
Rather than elevated in aesthetic or philosophical terms, this was hyper-energetic, brimful with motor energy, with Plane’s tireless virtuosity speaking for itself.’
The Guardian, March 2018

‘Robert Plane is always inquiring as to repertoire and his new disc surveys almost six decades of Hungarian music. Plane’s musicianship is abetted throughout by that of his colleagues…Collecting such a programme by other means would not be easy; better simply to acquire this disc and enjoy.’
Gramophone, October 2017 (‘Contrasts’, Champs Hill Records)

‘Serly settled in New York aged 10 but returned to Hungary to study, and his trio reflects this: Gershwinesque episodes, first languid and then gently perky, frame a lament for clarinet and violin that looks longingly towards Budapest. It’s a little gem, and the light touch adopted by Plane together with violinist Lucy Gould and pianist Benjamin Frith is ideal.’
The Guardian, September 2017 (‘Contrasts’, Champs Hill Records)

‘Robert Plane gives a very fine reading for Naxos, playing with the Northern
Sinfonia, of which he was principal clarinet at the time. His playing is fluent and purposeful, with plenty of character; he is suitably indignant at the close of the first movement and displays an emphatic chalumeau register in the second. He shades dynamics with great sensitivity and the rondo is wonderfully goodnatured.’
Gramophone, July 2016 (Finzi Clarinet Concerto)

‘In this performance of works spanning a decade, it was the most recent pieces that were conveyed with greatest expressivity and huge emotional intensity. Speak Seven Seas for clarinet – played by Robert Plane, with Dukes on viola and Watkins on piano – had an apparently easy ebb and flow, but its dramatic tension was manipulated with the same unerring control.’
The Guardian February 2016 Huw Watkins Portrait Concert, Cardiff

‘Beethoven: Music in Revolution was the ambitious title given to this five-day festival, curated and performed by the Gould Piano Trio and friends. It offered an absorbing historical perspective on a composer who subverted rules, pushed boundaries and used shock tactics, as well as capturing his rigour and passion.

The Gould Trio’s recital of Op 1 No 3, and Op 11 with clarinettist Robert Plane, achieved a perfect balance of structural exactitude and lyricism.’
The Guardian February 2016

‘On Friday evening, in the symphony’s all-Mozart concert at the Ferguson Center for the Arts, it was the one purely instrumental piece that was the most expressive music of the evening – the Clarinet Concerto stood out only in part because it was played with perfect technical control.

With soloist Robert Plane, it also had a true variety of human emotion that one might find almost “operatic.” On the technical side, he had control of every note, and his detailed articulation made that clear. Scales, arpeggios, leaps – none caused him any problems, and he was able to concentrate on the music lines.

In the slow movement, which sounded so pure and uncomplicated, it was hard not to think of the Countess in “Figaro,” who sings a similar line, but with so much emotion attached to her words. Plane was able to create a similar effect and to “sing” with the same kind of depth.

The final movement was more about having fun with the music, and the orchestra joined in. Playing neatly for conductor JoAnn Falletta, the musicians offered support but also joined in the lively dialogue with Plane. Balance and control were there, but so was spirit.’
Virginia Pilot April 2013

‘The delectable soloist, Robert Plane, must be smiling for joy at this unexpected addition to the (wonderful but small) clarinet quintet repertoire.’
International Record Review 2012 (Finzi Five Bagatelles)

‘…stunningly intimate miniatures……Plane’s readings are superb, especially in the extended lyrical movements like the ‘Romance’, ‘Carol’ and ‘Forlana’.’
Gramophone 2012 (Finzi Five Bagatelles)

‘The performances do the music proud, not least the….soulful clarinet playing of Robert Plane….’
Gramophone 2012 (Piers Hellawell ‘Agricolas’)

‘With.. Robert Plane in the Clarinet Trio, Op 114, it was the mix of eloquently melodic sweep with precise details of texture and colouring that held the attention. It was all music-making of the highest calibre.’
The Guardian 2011 (Brahms Festival, RWCMD, Cardiff)

‘With such a starry line-up of players the high quality of these performances will surely come as no surprise…such rapt sensitivity and tonal allure’
Classic FM magazine (Alwyn Chamber Music) 2010

‘superb premiere….brilliantly exploits the technical resources of the two soloists, their streams of notes fizzing and cart-wheeling’
The Times 2010 (Simon Holt ‘Centauromachy’)

‘The appeal of Greek mythology for such composers as Harrison Birtwistle and Simon Holt is apparently endless, and the centaur – half-man, half-horse – is the inspiration for Holt’s latest piece for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Further inspired by two of the orchestra’s star players, the clarinettist Robert Plane and the trumpeter Philippe Schartz, Holt has conceived Centauromachy as a double concerto, reflecting the dual nature of the centaur with all its ambiguities and sense of liminal being.

‘Holt’s masterstroke is to have Schartz play the flugelhorn, which has a more silky sound than the trumpet but is almost identical in range to the clarinet. There are moments when each instrument’s timbre seems to linger on the threshold of the other; together they blend into an altogether different sound quality, and yet can also contrast brilliantly. The magical and otherworldly effect befits the mythical creature.

‘The soloists’ interplay with the orchestra is characteristically intricate, and conductor François-Xavier Roth handled it with care. Plane and Schartz realised the virtuosity effortlessly, allowing the work’s core expressiveness and the feeling of an ultimately tortured super-being to vividly emerge.’
Guardian 2010

‘Centauromachy is dominated by the interplay of its solo instruments, sometimes trading extravagant roulades, sometimes interweaving delicate oscillations, always making intricate duo patterns that suggest a playful intellect much more than a bellicose temper. François-Xavier Roth conducted a highly persuasive performance, with brilliantly adept and just sufficiently theatrical playing by the two soloists.’
ArtsDesk.com 2010

‘Robert Plane is an eloquent and impassioned clarinettist. The playing is full-blooded and committed…’
International Record Review 2010

‘Anthony Marwood (leading from the first violin) and clarinettist Robert Plane showing a strength and depth of musical character which the other players simply didn’t match’ (Schubert Octet, Shannon International Festival)
Irish Times 2008

‘A fine work, in one continuous movement…it makes masterly use of the instrument’s wide register and variety of timbres. Plane’s interpretation of the composer’s long lyrical lines (in particular the central Andante), the climactic peaks, dramatic interjections and tender pianissimi are nothing short of exceptional in their careful grading; clearly, as his recording of Stanford’s chamber works for clarinet demonstrates, he has a special affinity for this music.’
Gramophone, December 2008

‘Hellawell has mastered the challenge of writing music that sounds familiar yet new, and he has a command of striking gesture. The strongest sense of trajectory was achieved in Degrees of Separation for strings. But better still was Agricolas , where the presence of Robert Plane as clarinet soloist provided the strongest sense of focus.’
Irish Times (Piers Hellawell ‘Agricolas’ with RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland) Feb 2011

‘I also liked Diana Burrell’s Birthday Candle, in which an array of tinkling percussion embellished Robert Plane’s dazzling clarinet cascades.’
The Times, Wigmore Hall, Mobius March 2008

‘The sleek chamber group Mobius, drawn from orchestral principals, celebrated its 10th birthday last weekend with a Wigmore Hall concert .. ending with Mozart, a polished clarinet quintet. In between came seven specially commissioned new works, one for each member of the group, under the collective title of Birthday Candles. In Diana Burrell’s ‘Birthday Candle’, percussive special effects offset the bright, gymnastic warbling of Robert Plane’s clarinet.’
The Observer, Wigmore Hall, Mobius March 2008

‘Ravishing in tone and exploiting an excitingly wide dynamic range, Plane forges a commandingly articulate alliance with pianist Benjamin Frith. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine more sympathetic music-making.’
Gramophone, November 2007

‘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, August 2007

‘..but the performance of the Finzi Clarinet Concerto which, for me, gets right to the heart is the excellent Robert Plane’s….sinuous and flexible.’
Recommended Recording, Building a Library, BBC Radio 3 2006

‘The performances are excellent, and Robert Plane is responsive to the shifting moods of the mature sonata…a programme to intrigue all Bax enthusiasts’
BBC Music Magazine 2006

‘Robert Plane’s irreproachably alert and stylish account with Benjamin Frith leaves a delightlful impression. Plane’s timbre could hardly be more alluring and he strikes up a tangible rapport with Frith. Enthusiasts can rest assured that these admirably agile and idiomatic performers give Bax’s youthful inspiration every chance to shine; indeed, it’s impossible to imagine a more convincing account of the Trio’
Gramophone 2006

‘….splendid performances.This richly rewarding release completes the Gould’s admirable cycle on a high note. Full of lyrical outpouring, warm and varied tone, and perfect judgement of tempi, all these performances display an all too rare ability to combine in equal measure instrumental cohesion and expressive individuality. These are conversations, never debates…heart-warming and mind-nourishing celebrations of community-vividly characterised, very shrewdly built, while never sacrificing small-scale detail to large-scale structure, and grippingly communicative.’
Piano Magazine 2006

‘ ….the result is gorgeous, as here in the serene conclusion to the slow movement of the Clarinet Trio…exuding poise and elegance.’
CD Review BBC Radio 3 2006 (Brahms Clarinet Trio)

“The Clarinet Sonata, Howells’s last major chamber work was completed in 1946. The dedicatee was Frederick Thurston, and the wonderfully idiomatic 1980 recording by his wife and pupil Thea King has certainly stood the test of time. Robert Plane’s poetic account is possibly finer still, with its entrancing poise and liquid tone. Plane shines too in the coquettish miniature A Near-Minuet and sublime Rhapsodic Quintet.”
Gramophone 2004

“Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with soloist Robert Plane provided a serene oasis.”
The Guardian 2003 (Swansea Festival)

“Congratulations to Robert Plane (clarinet), Philip Dukes (viola) and Sophia Rahman (piano), who this month celebrate ten years of playing together as a trio. The sight of their names on a CD cover or concert programme always excites the highest expectations of imaginative and dedicated musicianship and, as usual, this disc entirely fulfils that promise.”
London Evening Standard 2002 (Bruch Chamber Music)

“..a terrific account of the Weber Clarinet Quintet, dazzlingly dispatched by Robert Plane.”
Gramophone 2000

“The clarinet plays a brilliant top line in Weber’s Clarinet Quintet op.34. He is a weightless funambulist dancing along the stave, leaping up the leger lines and attacking with a breathless whisper. His two octave leaps are the joy of his instrument, and his finger work in the loud-soft hemi-demi-semi quaver-plus ascents is witness to the hours of effort in a practice room which those who sell records by hype cut short.”
London Evening Standard 2001 (EMI Debut CD)

“..the marvellous Plane Dukes Rahman Trio. In Schumann’s Marchenerzahlungen the trio showed a mastery of the Wigmore acoustics. The warm textures were honey rather than treacle, clarity provided by the piquant tone of Philip Dukes’s viola. Balance was perfect. The clarinet-piano Fantasiestucke and viola-piano Marchenbilder were enriched by the same intelligent, fluid articulation, confirming the rightness of this affectionate but unsentimental view of Schumann.”(Wigmore Hall)
The Daily Telegraph 1998

“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 … We also get an atmospheric account of Lawrence Ashmore’s idiomatic orchestration of the Five Bagatelles (with poignant ‘Romance’ a highlight). All in all, another remarkable British music bargain from Naxos.”
Gramophone 1998

“..clarinettist Robert Plane, a formidable young player who combines the charisma and virtuosity of a solo player with the ensemble skills of the orchestral musician.”
BBC Music Magazine 1998 (Diana Burrell Concerto London Premiere, Barbican)

“Appropriately, the cover picture is of autumnal woodland. There is a mellowness to these late chamber works by Schumann, a partial reconciliation between the conflicting sides of his nature, though passion is far from spent. The playing here has a similar equilibrium: three fine musicians combining without losing their strong individual characters. Clarinettist Robert Plane’s long, dark sound is a good foil to Philip Dukes’s sharply focused viola tone, and pianist Sophia Rahman’s velvet touch and awareness of inner voices complete the picture.”
Daily Telegraph 1998

“Northern Sinfonia’s excellent principal clarinettist, Robert Plane…an assured and persuasive account of the solo role.’ (Diana Burrell Concerto London premiere)
The Times 1997

“The concerto was specially written for Robert Plane, whose outstanding musicianship fully justified the composer’s confidence; made clear in both her pre-concert talk, and in her probing of the technical and expressive limits of this finely crafted score…Chamber orchestras ought to be queuing up for a chance at this concerto with Plane.”
The Musical Times 1996 (Diana Burrell Concerto premiere)

“Monday Morning’s Pittville Pump Room concert was a perfect advertisement for this year’s Cheltenham Festival. The Plane Dukes Rahman Trio were on top form, there was a friendly rapport between performers and audience, and the programme exemplified the thoughtful planning of the new artistic director, Michael Berkeley. The whole programme suggested that for these musicians, superb playing is the most natural thing in the world.”
The Daily Telegraph 1995

“Prime among the first clutch of artists were the pianist Thomas Ades and the clarinettist Robert Plane. There is a distinct lyrical quality in his clarinet playing…Paul Max Edlin’s And From the Tempest a Myriad of Stars and Edward McGuire’s Soundweft both extend the clarinet-player’s technique, and Robert Plane was fully equal to the demands.”
Daily Telegraph 1993 (Purcell Room London Debut, Park Lane Group)

“..the star quality of some of the performers. Two stood out from the rest-the cellist Paul Watkins and clarinettist Robert Plane. Plane’s unremitting stamina, tonal variety and gelling accuracy kept a large audience riveted.”
The Guardian 1993 (Purcell Room, London Debut, Park Lane Group)

“Rare graciousness and impeccable style characterised Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in which Robert Plane’s tone had a beautifully homogenous quality. He gave the slow movement a quiet rapture, notably in the hushed reprise of the opening.”
Yorkshire Post 1993

“..a young man with technique to spare and musicality to match…the slow movement contained one of those rare moments – the audience awed into silence, a velvety halo round the clarinet – in which time stood still.”
The Yorkshire Evening Press 1993