Leslie is Principal Clarinettist of Welsh National Opera, appointed by Maesto Carlo Rizzi Before he joined W.N.O he was guest Principal clarinet with major orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, London Symphony, London Chamber Orchestra, London Musici and many other ensembles.He has had a prolific Film and T.V. recording session career and was one of London’s most sought after recording musicians in film studio sound track work and for jingles (T.V. and radio advertisements)
Recently he became the sole agent for Ridenour Clarinet Products U.K. and was appointed Clarinet Tutor at the University of Cardiff School of Music
Chamber CD recordings with “2CELLOS” Stjepan Hauser and friends
In recent years he has joined forces with the “2CELLOS” cellist Stjepan Hauser and pianist Yoko Misumi to record Trio repertoire for Clarinet Cello and piano including works by Brahms Beethoven Bruch and Nino Rota in that composer’s centenary 2011.
picture right – BBC Music magazine 5* recording Romantic Trios – nominated for a recording award in chamber music category
Leslie, Stjepan Hauser and Yoko Misumi with whom he recorded trios by Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch and Rota.
Stjepan Hauser recently had huge success and was signed by Sony records to record several albums of music for “2 Cellos”Leslie has also recently been partnered in recitals by Michael Pollock with whom he has recorded both of the Brahms Sonatas, plus the beautiful Sonata by Nino Rota (composer of the “Godfather” score) also on this disc “Rota Centenary” Leslie is joined by Yoko and Stjepan to perform the Rota trio for Clarinet Cello and piano
(pictures by Terence Donnelly and Dave Thomas)
Leslie Craven is also featured on solo discs and numerous chamber music recordings, some of which have been written especially for and dedicated to him – notably, many of the works on the “Expressions” disc of lyrical contemporary pieces and the Concerto for clarinet and strings by Christopher Ball (See CD page on this site) plus the Clarinet Quintet by Christopher Ball and the new CD Inspirations featuring the music of Roma Cafolla with virtuoso friends.
Other Concertos written for and dedicated to Leslie are : Roma Cafolla – Concerto and “Pied Piper” Concerto by Vasco Hexel.
Orchestral and studio work
During Leslie’s very first appointment as Principal Clarinet with an Opera Orchestra (age twenty one) he studied the Italian – opera clarinet repertoire with Maestro Franco Ferraris, (a former pupil of the great Arturo Toscanini and repetiteur for Klemperer) learning much about the style and tradition of that art form.
He has a vast recital repertoire and has also performed many concertos in countries as distant as America, Canada, South Africa, most of Europe and for many international Radio and T.V. networks. In his role as a principal clarinettist he has recorded with Vladimir Ashkenazy, Gidon Kremer, Rostropovitch, Alfredo Kraus, Bryn Terfel, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, Renee Fleming, Marcello Alvarez, Stjepan Hauser, and many other great artists.
Films and Jingles
During his freelance career in London he was highly sought after in studios, playing on soundtracks for films and for TV series and commercials. Films he played for include Howards End (with Anthony Hopkins), Mickey Blue Eyes (with Hugh Grant), The Pope Must Die (with Robbie Coltrane), The Wicker Man (original version with Britt Ekland and Edward Woodward), The Pirate Prince and many more.
T.V. series include amongst others; House of Eliott, Soldier, Soldier, Anna Lee, the Michael Aspel show and Wogan. He appeared also on the sound track for the background music to the Barcelona Olympics with Placido Domingo and Sarah Brightman.
He also played for West End Shows such as Phantom of the Opera and was a member of the chamber ensemble (hand chosen by Michael Reed – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s former executive musical director) for Aspects of Love and featured on the cast albums and compilation discs of most of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical hits.
Leslie also recorded for many commercials including: Ribena, Levi, Renault, McDonalds, Lindt chocolates, Ariel, Cheerios and many other household brands.
As well as numerous classical and operatic orchestral discs he also recorded backing tracks for Charlotte Church, Cilla Black, Michael Ball, Michael Crawford, Barry Manilow, Rod Stewart, The Pet Shop Boys, Richard Clayderman and many others.
Solo T.V. Performances
Some notable Solo T.V. performances include Fantasia: La Traviata (Verdi arranged Lovreglio / Giampieri), the Mozart concerto conducted by Rinaldo Allessandrini with the orchestra of Welsh National Opera and the obligato to Parto Parto from Mozart’s Opera: La Clemenza da Tito conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. (With mezzo soprano Katarina Karnéus – winner of BBC Singer of the World).
These performances received lavish praise from the press. Leslie has broadcast most of the major recital repertoire and whilst in South Africa was nominated for an “Artes” broadcasting award for his world premier recording of Suite for clarinet and piano by exiled South African composer Priaulx Rainier during the decade the 1980’s.
(see also: teaching page)
Leslie’s work as a teacher and pedagogue is known internationally and he is considered one of Britain’s foremost teachers of clarinet and one of the most exciting players in the English style.
Leslie gives lessons at the Royal Welsh College of Music and master classes throughout U.K. in most of the major teaching establishments and has written a teaching/playing treatise about the clarinet, called “Instant Help for Playing and Teaching the Clarinet” which is recommended reading on the ABRSM Diploma Course reading list . (See book page on this site).
Leslie’s specific Mouthpiece Design
Leslie has been working on mouthpiece facing design for over thirty five years and designed his own brand of clarinet mouthpiece, manufactured in the United States exclusively for Leslie (by Bradford Behn, possibly the finest mouthpiece craftsman in the world) and is sold from this website and used by many of Britain’s leading players and various clarinettists all over the globe.
The mouthpiece delivers a very clear ringing, focused yet warm, flexible sound, clean staccato and secure intonation, excellent legato and ease of production, particularly in the high register.
See testimonials from satisfied customers on Mouthpiece page
Leslie assists clients to select the mouthpieces and offer useful advice and helpful suggestions on how to improve their sound using his design. He is also happy to make minor adjustments and repairs to mouthpieces provided the damage / wear is not extreme.
Mouthpieces can be customised in his studio in conjunction with the client to get the ultimate playing experience for the clarinettist.
Among the many professional artists who have bought Craven Mouthpieces are ; David Campbell (Recording artist and Soloist), Lyndsey Marsh (formerly principal clarinet – Halle Orchestra), Richard Addison (formerly R.P.O), Jane Calderbank, Massimo di Trolio, Alan Asquith (English Northern Ballet) Daniel Rye (Welsh national Opera) Peter Fielding (W.N.O. (retired) and a host of other top free lance players plus numerous students and fine amateur players.