Notes and Editorial Reviews
Egils Sefers (cl); Niels Larsen (bn); David Palmquist (hn); Claus Efland, cond; Sinfonietta Riga
CHALLENGE 2621 (69: 13)
Concert for Clarinet, Horn, and Orchestra.
Concertino for Clarinet, Bassoon, and Orchestra,
Concertino for Horn, Bassoon, and Orchestra,
for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon, and Orchestra
You know that favorite phrase of marketers, “Something for everyone.” Well, this disc is very nearly it. For the beginner, and for those whose musical taste remains staunchly conservative, every note on this program will fill the bill. For the experienced and the connoisseur ever in search of something new, I submit that not one reader in 500 knows all four of these composers. (OK, horn players will recognize Belloli. But note, that’s not Franz Lachner in the title; it’s his brother Ignaz.) Most every clarinetist, bassoonist, and horn player will want this disc as a welcome extension of their solo repertory. Lastly, if you are impressed with the whole cult of virtuosity, there is plenty here to engage your interest, and then some. (Wait until you hear the end of the Jadin work!)
The only demographic likely to ignore this disc is the die-hard avant-gardist—and understandably so. Phrases are all four-square, the harmony is totally predictable, the mood is one of infallibly good cheer (there is but a single movement in a minor key; even that lasts barely more than a minute, and is more melancholic than morose). This is music as conservative as can be, all from the late 18th and early 19th centuries by composers who had no interest in pushing the ceiling. No, their aim was solely to please their contemporary listeners and to amaze audiences with displays of virtuosity. This is not to say these works are inferior. Each is full of attractive melodies and appealing instrumental combinations, and none outstays its welcome (the longest is 18 minutes).
This would appear to be a joint Danish-Latvian project. The orchestra and solo clarinetist are Latvian, the conductor and remaining soloists Danish. All three soloists are superb musicians and technical wizards. The horn player in particular knocks off prodigiously difficult passages with the ease of a clarinetist or violinist. The “wow” factor is nearly off the charts. In more than half a century of listening to great horn players, I have never heard anything to top this. Not even Dennis Brain or Barry Tuckwell ever played like David Palmquist.
No two works calls for the same combination of soloists, yet each soloist gets to play in three of the four works. All have gorgeous tones, and play with aplomb, taste, and obvious love for the music. There is not a trace of strain in their playing. A good contender for this year’s Want List.
FANFARE: Robert Markow
Works on This Recording
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