Notes and Editorial Reviews
Spohr's four clarinet concertos deserve exposure far beyond the small coterie of woodwind aficionados. They are truly lovely works, formally interesting (check out the poetic, quiet ending of No. 1), and helped immeasurably by having a wind instrument on hand as soloist to give the composer's sometimes soft-edged melodies extra shapeliness and backbone. These qualities come immediately to mind in listening to these extremely fine performances featuring the superb Swedish Chamber Orchestra and exceptional English clarinetist Michael Collins. Certainly the music holds no terrors for Collins, who handles the flashiest runs with aplomb, emits a truly singing legato in the music's slow sections, and tackles the stratospheric writing in Concerto
No. 2 with finely focused tone.
Indeed, the only quibble I have about the finished product concerns the engineering, which favors the clarinet and captures a bit too much clicking of the keys. It's not a vey serious issue, and it certainly doesn't diminish the positive orchestral contribution under Robin O'Neill, but it's there all the same. The inclusion of the delightful Variations in B flat and the Potpourri in F (actually another set of variations), both equally well played, only add to the disc's attractions. On the whole, the performances are more vivid than the competition on Naxos, and fully on a par with Karl Leister's complete set (Orfeo). I assume that a second disc will be forthcoming eventually, and if it's as good as this one then Collins and Co. will be major contenders for pride of place in this music. Do get to know them.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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