Two of the greatest and best-loved chamber works for clarinet. Maximiliano Martin, one of the most charismatic players of his generation, is principal clarinet of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The Badke Quartet, formed in 2002, is widely recognised as one of Britain's finest string quartets, receiving widespread acclaim for its energy and vibrancy. 'Martin elegantly conveys the soul and introspection of Brahms…'
Unquestionably, the clarinet quintets of Mozart and Brahms have earned time-honored and well-deserved places in the repertoire of clarinetists worldwide. In the informative and well-written annotations by Eric Hoeprich, we read that “they embody the maturity, depth, experience, and possibly even a premonition of an otherworldliness soon to be experienced firsthand.”
No timbral difference separates this midprice reissue of one of the best-loved concertos by Mozart from its previous, full-priced equivalent. There's a bit more ambience and warmth and less stridency on top. If you own the original CD, there's no need to replace it, but first-time buyers should snap up these sensitive, stylish performances in their Great Recordings of the Century guise. One of the main attractions is the extended compass and deliciously "woody" tone of Sabine Meyer's basset clarinet. The clarinetist's fleet, effortless dispatch of the Clarinet Concerto's outer movements is a delight to the ear, and her improvised (or so they seem!) flourishes fit into their environment as if Mozart had written them himself.
The Finnish clarinettist Kari Kriikku is best known for his performances of contemporary works, many of them composed specifically to exploit his phenomenal virtuosity; his recording of Magnus Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto was one of the finest of the last year. But as this disc of Mozart and Molter with the Tapiola Sinfonietta shows, Kriikku is an equally impressive interpreter of the mainstream clarinet repertory. Like a number of soloists these days, he opts for a basset clarinet in his wonderfully fluid and constantly alert performance of the Mozart concerto, taking advantage of that instrument's extended lower register to restore the original shape of some of the solo lines. But there is not much he can do enliven the three routine concertos, by Johann Melchior Molter, which will be welcomed by clarinettists more than anyone else. The music leaves little impression, though Kriikku's performances on the high clarinet in D are technically impeccable.
Mozart?s concerto actually began life as a concerto for basset horn (not basset clarinet) and was written in the key of G. The manuscript ended abruptly after the 191st measure of the first movement. Mozart rethought his plan, decided to recast the concerto in A, and overhauled the solo part for basset clarinet, an instrument developed by his friend Anton Stadler The version that entered the repertoire after Mozart?s death was an adaptation of the original.