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Krommer: Clarinet Concertos / Pay, Friedli, English Chamber Orchestra

Thomas Friedli And Antony Pay, Clarinet, English Chamber Orchestra, Antony Pay,
Release Date: 02/14/2012 
Label:  Claves   Catalog #: 8602   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Krommer
Performer:  Antony PayThomas Friedli
Conductor:  Antony Pay
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

KROMMER Clarinet Concertos: in E? , op. 36; in e, op. 86. 2-Clarinet Concerto in E? Thomas Friedli (cl); Antony Pay (cl, cond); English CO CLAVES CD 50-8602 (70:43)

This delightful CD is apparently a new distribution of a 1986 issue, with disc number and notes intact. The Swiss clarinetist Thomas Friedli died unexpectedly in 2008.

Read more /> Franz Krommer (born Franti?ek Kramá?) was Czech by birth but spent the major part of his career in Vienna; he was the last official court composer in the Habsburg court. A violinist, Krommer wrote mostly orchestral and chamber music, including at least six dozen string quartets. Born less than four years after Mozart, he outlived Beethoven, but his style is firmly based in the 18th century. The Clarinet Concerto, op. 36, was composed almost exactly midway between those of Mozart and Weber; a fairly ambitious work, it features a large orchestra including trumpets and timpani. It is certainly a virtuoso showpiece, but well written for the instrument; everything fits well under the fingers. The E-Minor Concerto was originally written for flute; its transcription for clarinet took place during Krommer’s lifteime and apparently with his consent. It is believed to be by Krommer’s colleague Joesph Küffner. This score is not nearly as gracefully written for the clarinet. The two-clarinet concerto, published around the same time as op. 36, features lots of imitation and parallel thirds and octaves between the two soloists; neither part is really subsidiary in any meaningful way.

Thomas Friedli was a superb player with a bright, well-focused sound leavened with a touch of vibrato. His performance of the op. 36 Concerto is exemplary; of other clarinetists who have recorded this concerto, the French clarinetist Paul Meyer (no relation to Sabine Meyer) on Denon (no longer available) sounds a bit sweeter while Walter Boeykens, on Harmonia Mundi, has a rounder and less focused tone. In the op. 86 flute concerto Meyer may again be a shade preferable, but his recording may be impossible to find, and Friedli is again faultless.

Friedli is joined in the two-clarinet concerto by the renowned English clarinetist Antony Pay, who also conducts all three works; Pay is exemplary as well, and the rapid runs in octaves for the two soloists sound stunning. The primary competition in this concerto is the sibling team of Wolfgang and Sabine Meyer on an EMI ArkivCD; they are also perfectly in sync, but their tempos are considerably faster. I prefer Pay’s and Friedli’s version, because it’s easier to hear everything.

The 1985 recordings still sound very fine. The versions of these concertos by the various Meyers may be my top choices, but not by much, and in terms of program and availability this Claves CD is a winner. Warmly recommended to fans of the clarinet and of Classical Kleinmeister.

FANFARE: Richard A. Kaplan
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Clarinet in E flat major, Op. 36 by Franz Krommer
Performer:  Antony Pay (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Antony Pay
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: circa 1803; Bohemia 
Date of Recording: 09/1985 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 22 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Concerto for Clarinet in E minor, Op. 86 by Franz Krommer
Performer:  Antony Pay (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Antony Pay
Period: Classical 
Date of Recording: 09/1985 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 26 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Concerto for 2 Clarinets in E flat major, Op. 35 by Franz Krommer
Performer:  Antony Pay (Clarinet), Thomas Friedli (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Antony Pay
Period: Classical 
Written: ?1802; Bohemia 
Date of Recording: 09/1985 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 22 Minutes 5 Secs. 

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