Notes and Editorial Reviews
Clarinet Concertos: in E?,
Dieter Klöcker (cl); Johannes Moesus, cond; Jena Phil
cpo 777 407-2 (62:15)
Andreas Goepfert (1768–1818) is a name that the average classical music lover or even the more avid classical music lover or collector is not likely to know, even though he wrote what Dieter Klöcker
describes in his liner notes as quite a few concertos. Goepfert’s musical maturation came in the era of the traveling virtuoso. He was by all extant accounts a gifted clarinetist and the three concertos on this compact disc were undoubtedly tailored to his talents. When Goepfert died in 1818, the
Leipziger Allgemeine Musikalisches Zeitung
recalled his playing in highly favorable terms and at the same time lamented his demise. An obituary of this nature elicits a question from me and no doubt from the average reader, the question being, “Who was Andreas Goepfert?”
He was the sixth of seven children born into a physician’s family and educated musically and academically in his native Rimpur until he attained the age of 16. It was then that the young Goepfert left home for nearby Würzburg. There the teenager had further musical and academic education and intense instruction on the clarinet by one Philipp Meissner. In 1788 and with Meissner’s recommendation in hand, the 20-year-old Goepfert made his way to Meiningen where—for the remainder of his life—he would pursue his craft.
This was the time of the Enlightenment, a time set apart from the Baroque by tolerance, not to mention humaneness. Great names—including Jean Paul, Goethe, and Schiller—were known and welcome in Meiningen, and encouraged to stay. Goepfert became a member of the local Masonic lodge, but beneath the veneer of open-mindedness, it was an entirely different matter. Goepfert’s repeated requests for study with the likes of Mozart were—in the language of our day—taken under advisement, but never acted upon, thereby thwarting the intellectual and musical initiative of a man who might have become a more well-known figure in European musical life and perhaps even one of the finest of second-tier composers. Goepfert was to die in 1818 in abject poverty, leaving behind a wife and two children who were forced to sell dried fish and tobacco products.
As late as the middle of the 19th century, more than 120 works of Goepfert were known and his gifts were not only respected but praised, and 89 additional and non-musical documents make reference to his music, specifically Goepfert’s quartets, trios, symphonies, and concertos. After Goepfert, Meiningen would become the starting point for the careers of Johannes Brahms, Hans von Bülow, Max Reger, Richard Strauss, and clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld.
So what does the music reveal about Goepfert other than the fact that it is basically in the style of what would later become known as Viennese Classicism? It reveals a man who was blessed with a fine melodic gift, though none of the themes leap from my speakers, permanently lodging themselves in my memory. However, the thematic material is well thought-out and worked through with confidence as well as considerable skill. The solo writing is quite impressive and indicates that Goepfert was a clarinetist whose capabilities equaled and perhaps even surpassed those of Mozart’s friend Anton Stadler.
The Jena Philharmonic, while not on a par with its better-known counterparts in Vienna and Berlin, plays with commitment, cohesiveness, and precision, and when teamed with Dieter Klöcker, the results are stellar. Klöcker has yet to give us a recording that is technically anything less than first-class, and his unerring musical archaeology is icing on the cake. This is another star in Klöcker’s already radiant crown. Who knows what gems are waiting in the wings?
FANFARE: Michael Carter
Works on This Recording
Clarinet Concerto in E flat major, Op. 35: I. Allegro con spirito
Clarinet Concerto in E flat major, Op. 35: II. Larghetto: Cantabile
Clarinet Concerto in E flat major, Op. 35: III. Allegro grazioso
Clarinet Concerto in B flat major, Op. 20: I. Allegro molto
Clarinet Concerto in B flat major, Op. 20: II. Largo
Clarinet Concerto in B flat major, Op. 20: III. Allegro
Clarinet Concerto in E flat major, Op. 14: I. Allegro
Clarinet Concerto in E flat major, Op. 14: II. Adagio
Clarinet Concerto in E flat major, Op. 14: III. Rondo: Allegro
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