Notes and Editorial Reviews
Two good reasons for the quality of the COE woodwind to take a well-earned step forward into the solo spotlight. Hosford opts for the basset clarinet (an extended Boosey & Hawkes Symphony 10-10) in his reading of the Mozart, and amidst all the confusion which still exists today as to what Mozart actually wrote, convinces me once more that this really is the best way to hear the piece. The extended lower range really opens up the solo line, adding greatly to its fascination and continuity: in such passages as the improvisatory development of the slow movement theme or the impish fun and games shortly before the close of the finale, the exploration of these lower notes and the dark smokey colours therein produces an extraordinary effect.
One begins to see the full extent of Mozart's invention, not to say daring. Hosford is more than a match for rival basset versions from Thea King (Hyperion) and Antony Pay (L'Oiseau-Lyre) playing with great taste, sensitivity, and mellifluous even tone throughout the range. The support of his colleagues (under Alexander Schneider) is seamless—so seamless in the interaction of voices, the give and take between soloist and orchestra, that Hosford might just as well be occupying his regular seat amongst them. And I mean that as a compliment, of course. Among many lovely details, I particularly recall the slow movement reprise: hushed strings 'listening' so intently to the solo line.
Back on his standard instrument, Hosford touchingly conveys the requisite small-town innocence in the opening bars of the Copland—if without Richard Stoltzman's (RCA) miraculously dreamy sotto voce. The strings produce that to gorgeous effect in their sensuous `echoing' of the melody a page or two later. Indeed, it is they who are undoubtedly the star turn here, cutting and thrusting into Copland's devilish syncopations in the jazzy second half of the piece—a minefield of difficulty, whichever way you look at it. Their raunchy bass department take the rhythmic initiative to great effect throughout, not least in the fevered pizzicatos of the closing pages. Hosford, too, delivers, but generally speaking, his is a more staid presence. He has all the notes, and more, under his fingers—no question about that—and his straight, laid-back style certainly has its moments: notably in the smoochy 'slapped' bass episode. I just wish it were bluesier, that he felt freer to bend and swing and enjoy the solo line more. Stoltzman shows us how much wit and titillation and sheer fun there is to be found between these notes. Few do.
Hosford is fully back in his element with the long, almost too-beautiful-to-be-true opening solo (against five solo strings) of the Strauss Concertino—a passage to which the rest of this decorative piece never quite aspires. But then again, should you mistakenly imagine for a moment that the arrival of Matthew Wilkie's solo basson signals some sort of `beauty and the beast' scenario, then just remember that it is he who gets—and does proud—the other of the work's pastoral delights: the long amorous solo of the andante. A full and unusual programme, then, delivered with spirit and artistry. But if the Copland is your prime concern, then Stoltzman must be your man.
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Clarinet by Aaron Copland
Richard Hosford (Clarinet)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1947-1948; USA
Concerto for Clarinet in A major, K 622 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Richard Hosford (Basset Clarinet)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria
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