Robert has become particularly known for his performances and recordings of the magnificent English repertoire for clarinet. Gramophone magazine has praised playing of ‘ravishing lyricism and conviction by Robert Plane, who has now surely fully occupied the shoes of the late Thea King in his championship of British clarinet music.’ His benchmark recording of Finzi’s Clarinet Concerto (BBC Radio 3 Building a Library recommendation and part of the Naxos British Music Series which won a Gramophone Award in 1999) is still a regular feature of the playlists of both Radio 3 and Classic FM nearly twenty years after its initial release. He subsequently recorded discs of music by Bax (a further Gramophone Award shortlisting), John Ireland, Howells, Alwyn, Holbrooke, Robin Milford and Stanford, including Stanford’s Clarinet Concerto with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
Robert made his solo debut at the BBC Proms in 2011 in Simon Holt’s double concerto ‘Centauromachy’. He gave the world premiere of Piers Hellawell’s ‘Agricolas’, with subsequent performances and a CD recording for Delphian with the Ulster Orchestra and the RTE National Symphony Orchestra. Other notable premieres include the clarinet concerto by Diana Burrell, with performances with Royal Northern Sinfonia at the Huddersfield Contemporary Festival and at the Barbican, and Nicola LeFanu’s Concertino. He gave the UK premiere of Christian Jost’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ before taking it the Dortmund Philharmonic during their season celebrating that composer’s works. Other overseas engagements include Finzi in the Zurich Tonhalle with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Copland with the Malta Philharmonic in Valletta and a gala performance of the Bruch Double Concerto for clarinet and viola with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Robert has formed close partnerships with a number of leading chamber ensembles. He has performed and recorded with the Gould Piano Trio for over twenty years and their recording of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time was hailed by Gramophone as the ‘finest modern version’ of this monumental work. He also appears on the Gould Trio’s recorded cycle of the complete trios of both Beethoven and Brahms. Together, they direct the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival in Northumberland. He has collaborated with the Maggini, Dante, Auer, Carducci, Sacconi, Cavalleri, Brodsky and Tippett Quartets, and his performance of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet with the Skampa Quartet was broadcast live on Radio 3 on the opening night of that station’s ‘Brahms Experience’. Robert has given concerts with the Mandelring Quartet in Germany, the UK and on a West Coast USA tour and a series of recitals in Switzerland with the Swiss Piano Trio. He has performed with pianist Sophia Rahman since meeting as students at the Royal Academy of Music, for music clubs and festivals throughout the UK and on tour in South America, China, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
Alongside his solo and chamber work Robert has held the position of principal clarinet with Royal Northern Sinfonia, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He has played as a guest principal with the Royal Concertgebouw, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.