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Adolf Busch: Chamber Music, Vol. 1 - Clarinet and Strings (2012, 2013 Recordings)

Busch / Beigelbeck / Busch Kollegium Karlsruhe
Release Date: 10/29/2013 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 85   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Adolf Busch
Performer:  Yasushi IdeueBettina BeigelbeckPaula ValpolaWolfgang Wahl,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Note: The album cover may give you the impression that these are historic recordings, however these delightful chamber pieces, composed long ago by Adolf Busch were recorded by clarinetist Bettina Beigelbeck with a fine ensemble of musicians in 2012 and 2013.


A. BUSCH Hausmusik: Duet No. 1 for Violin and Clarinet, op. 26a. 1 Suite in F for Clarinet, Violin, Viola, and Cello, op. 62a. 2 Seven Bagatelles for Clarinet, Viola, Read more and Cello, op. 53a. 3 Serenade in A for Clarinet, Violin, and Viola, op. 53b. 4 Variations on an Original Theme for Clarinet and String Quartet, op. 53c. 5 Romanze for Clarinet, Two Violas, and Two Cellos, op. 53d 6. Humoreske in A for Clarinet, Trumpet, Viola, and Double Bass, BoO 15 7 Bettina Beigelbeck (cl); 1,2,5 Yasushi Ideue (vn); 4 Aureli Blaszczok (vn); 5 Ayu Ideue (vn); 2-7 Wolfgang Wahl (va); 6 Dorothea Funk (va); 2,5,6 Gabriela Bradley (vc); 3,6 Paula Valpola (vc); 7 Karl Jackl (db); 7 Roland Kopp (tpt) TOCCATA 0085 (75:26)

This is promised to be the first in a series of discs to feature the complete chamber works of Adolf Busch, which is most welcome news indeed. While Busch already has a secure place in the pantheon of musical immortals as one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century, he was also a dedicated composer with a substantial output of 70 official opus numbers (many of which, as can be seen from the headnote, are subdivided into several smaller works) and an additional 114 works without opus numbers. (For a complete list, see Appendix 12 in Volume 2 of Tully Potter’s massive two-volume biography, Adolf Busch: The Life of an Honest Musician .) While the great majority of the works are chamber music pieces, there are also a significant number for solo voice, some organ works, and several orchestral compositions, including two surviving symphonies, a Piano Concerto, and a Violin Concerto (the latter reconstructed from a surviving piano reduction, as the full orchestral score, like several others of Busch, was lost in the chaos of World War II). Among the chamber works, in addition to those for various combinations of strings (with or without piano accompaniment), numerous pieces feature either clarinet, flute, or saxophone.

This disc is dedicated to works by Busch for clarinet and string instruments; of the seven items featured here, five (all but the Bagatelles and the Variations) are claimed to be world premiere recordings. It does not contain all the composer’s compositions for clarinet, which also include the Hausmusik: Duet No. 2, op. 26b and German Dances , op. 26c; the Suite for Solo Clarinet, op. 37a; the Sonata, op. 54; the Divertimento, op. 62b; an Andante sostenuto , BoO 38; an Étude, BoO 55; and arrangements of works by Bach and Paganini. Out of this subsection of Busch’s oeuvre , the Suite and the Serenade are easily the two most substantial items; while none is a heavyweight piece as opposed to an occasional one, the first two movements of the Suite do strike a noticeably more introspective note than everything else here, where the mood ranges from chipper and cheeky to pleasantly relaxed. With the exceptions of the very early Humoreske from 1907 and the Hausmusik from 1921, these are all products of Busch’s mature years, dating from between 1936 and 1944. Over that span of almost four decades, however, one does not detect a great degree of alteration in compositional style; Busch remained true to Richard Strauss and Max Reger as models for melodic and harmonic inspiration, and to Mozart for compositional forms, with perhaps just a hint of Korngold peeking in for good measure. That said, there is a distinctive voice, and a very enjoyable one at that; if not truly memorable, the melodic lines always have great fluidity and grace and fall easily upon the ear, yet are always substantial enough to avoid the trite and ephemeral. Both the influence of Reger, and Busch’s profound dedication to Bach, are apparent in the composer’s use of counterpoint and fugue (cf. the first movement of the Hausmusik and the second of the Suite). With perhaps the exception of the oddly scored Humoreske , where the low-lying and unimaginative trumpet part seems extraneous, his instrumentation is deft and always uses the chosen instruments to full advantage, ably exploiting their distinctive tone colors and registers.

The performances here are exemplary. Clarinetist Bettina Beigelbeck has a particularly lovely tone, rich and silky, without even a hint of squawkiness in the upper register, and a seamless legato. The various string players here who are collectively labeled the “Busch Kollegium Karlsruhe” for this enterprise are fully worthy partners in their various supporting roles, with nary a wiry or scratchy-sounding bow stroke between them. The recorded sound is somewhat forward, the clarinet being particularly prominent, with a spacious ambience; the booklet provides detailed notes and short biographies of the performers with accompanying photos. I do confess to being puzzled as to why this series is choosing to split the op. 26 and op. 62 pieces onto separate CDs when it has sensibly paired all of the op. 53 pieces together, but that is an exceedingly minor quibble. Although not a must-have acquisition for anyone other than a clarinetist, I for one am thoroughly delighted to have this disc and look forward eagerly to the sequels; enthusiastically recommended.

FANFARE: James A. Altena
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Works on This Recording

Duet in B flat major for Violin and Clarinet, Op. 26b by Adolf Busch
Performer:  Yasushi Ideue (Violin), Bettina Beigelbeck (Clarinet)
Venue:  Canisiushaus, Karlsruhe 
Length: 0 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Bagatelles (7) for Clarinet, Viola and Cello, Op. 53a by Adolf Busch
Performer:  Paula Valpola (Cello), Bettina Beigelbeck (Clarinet), Wolfgang Wahl (Viola)
Date of Recording: 07/07/2013 
Venue:  Canisiushaus, Karlsruhe 
Length: 12 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Variations in F major for Clarinet and String Quartet, Op. 53c by Adolf Busch
Performer:  Yasushi Ideue (Violin), Gabriela Bradley (Cello), Bettina Beigelbeck (Clarinet),
Wolfgang Wahl (Viola), Ayu Ideue (Violin)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1942 
Venue:  Canisiushaus, Karlsruhe 
Length: 3 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Romanze, for clarinet, 2 violas & 2 cellos, Op. 53d by Adolf Busch
Performer:  Paula Valpola (Cello), Bettina Beigelbeck (Clarinet), Wolfgang Wahl (Viola),
Gabriela Bradley (Cello), Dorothea Funk (Viola)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1943 
Venue:  Canisiushaus, Karlsruhe 
Length: 5 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Suite for clarinet, violin, viola & cello in F major, Op. 62a by Adolf Busch
Performer:  Wolfgang Wahl (Viola), Yasushi Ideue (Violin), Bettina Beigelbeck (Clarinet),
Gabriela Bradley (Cello)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1944 
Venue:  Canisiushaus, Karlsruhe 
Length: 20 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Serenade, for clarinet, violin & viola in A major, Op. 53b by Adolf Busch
Performer:  Bettina Beigelbeck (Clarinet), Wolfgang Wahl (Viola), Aureli Blaszczok (Violin)
Period: Contemporary 
Date of Recording: 10/25/2012 
Venue:  Canisiushaus, Karlsruhe 
Length: 17 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Humoreske, for clarinet, trumpet, viola & double bass in A major, BoO 15 by Adolf Busch
Performer:  Roland Kopp (Trumpet), Karl [Double Bass] Jackl (Double Bass), Wolfgang Wahl (Viola),
Bettina Beigelbeck (Clarinet)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907 
Date of Recording: 10/25/2012 
Venue:  Canisiushaus, Karlsruhe 
Length: 5 Minutes 4 Secs. 

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