Notes and Editorial Reviews
Clarinet Concerto. Quintet for Piano and Winds
Dimitri Ashkenazy (cl); Vladimir Ashkenazy (pn, cond); Franziska van Ooyen (ob); Martin Roos (hn); Otis Klöber (bn); Czech PO
PANCLASSICS 10220 (54: 12)
These two Mozart masterpieces, unusual in their scoring, are performed exceptionally well in this unique single-disc coupling. For those readers for whom catalog numbers send a message (I am such a person), the A-Major Clarinet Concerto is K 622 (note that the Requiem,
completion interrupted by death, is K 626) and the E? Quintet is K 452 (around the time of the triplet piano concertos, K 449, K 450, K 451, and the wonderful G-Major Piano Concerto, K 453).
The Clarinet Concerto is given an outstanding reading. A smooth and suave, yet quintessentially Mozartian clarinet sound and clearly articulated orchestral detail make this father-and-son effort one of the best perfomances in my memory. An older recording by Richard Stolzman with the English Chamber Orchestra under Alexander Schneider remains among the best, but this double Ashkenazy with the excellent Czech Philharmonic is even better. Stolzman’s tone is a little too silky for Mozart. Young (here almost 40) Dimitri’s woodier sound is more suitable.
The excellent musicianship that characterizes this performance of the mature Piano and Wind Quintet matches the excellence noted for the Clarinet Concerto. Ashkenazy
has not forsaken his musicianship as a pianist by taking up the baton many years ago, but rather it seems to have sharpened his grasp of Mozart’s demands. Ashkenazy
shows his clarinet prowess and his understanding of Mozart here as he does in the companion concerto. Ooyen’s oboe leaves nothing further to be desired, as is the case for Roos’s horn and Klöber’s bassoon, whose sound I find to be especially captivating.
These musicians all have outstanding backgrounds. Dimitri Ashkenazy started as a pianist, but switched to clarinet before age 20, studying under Giambattista Sisini at the Conservatory of Lucerne. Franziska van Ooyen studied with Peter Fuchs and eventually with Heinz Holliger. Martin Roos studied with Jakob Hefti, Peter Damm, and Thomas Müller. He freelances and is also principal horn with the Basel Sinfonietta. Otis Klöber studied with Klaus Thunemann. He has received many awards and has been principal bassoonist with the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra. All four wind players have performed extensively with chamber ensembles and orchestras throughout Europe. Vladimir Ashkenazy is one of the most distinguished pianists and conductors of our time. He has devoted special attention in his conducting capacities to the music of Sibelius.
If you don’t own this CD, you’re missing an outstanding musical experience and allowing a gap to remain in your understanding of Mozart.
FANFARE: Burton Rothleder
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Clarinet in A major, K 622 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Dimitri Ashkenazy (Clarinet)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria
Quintet for Piano and Winds in E flat major, K 452 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Otis Klöber (Bassoon),
Martin Roos (French Horn),
Dimitri Ashkenazy (Clarinet),
Franziska van Ooyen (Oboe),
Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano)
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria
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