Notes and Editorial Reviews
Peterková excels in a zesty clarinet recital.
On this showing Ludmila Peterková is the Czech answer to Germany’s Sabine Meyer‚ a characterful clarinettist‚ brilliant technically‚ with a wide range of tonecolours‚ who sparkles in everything she plays and brings a romantic warmth to such a work as the Bruch Double Concerto. She is consistently helped by the strong‚ sympathetic accompaniment of Ji·í Belohlávek and the Prague Philharmonia‚ here bidding to rival the Czech Philharmonic. As previous recordings of the Double Concerto have demonstrated – including one with the violaplayer‚ Yuri Bashmet‚ in the alternative version with violin instead of clarinet (RCA‚ 3/99) – it has
been seriously underappreciated since it was written just before the First World War. It was initially dismissed as being hopelessly outofdate‚ a work in the highRomantic style of 50 years earlier written in the period of Pierrot Lunaire and The Rite of Spring. Any anachronism of style no longer matters at all‚ and the wonder is that a composer in his midseventies could write such uninhibitedly passionate music. Nor‚ in a performance like this‚ is its unusual structure the shortcoming that some have suggested – including the writer of the linernote. As in other concertos by Bruch‚ the opening movement is measured‚ a lyrical Andante leading to another lyrical movement which strikes the ear as slower than the marking Allegro moderato might suggest. Only in the finale‚ Allegro molto‚ is the music both brisk and brilliant‚ but then you might say much the same of the everpopular G minor Violin Concerto. Peterková is joined by another brilliant Czech artist‚ the prizewinning violaplayer‚ Alexander Besa‚ rich‚ firm and true‚ and the impact of the performance is heightened by the warm‚ immediate recording. The two Mendelssohn Concert Pieces‚ each in three linked movements like a miniature concerto‚ are alleged to have been written as a challenge at high speed in the time it took the original performers‚ the clarinettistcomposer‚ Heinrich Baermann and his bassetthorn playing son‚ Carl‚ to prepare and cook a cream strudel‚ their speciality as amateur chefs. Mendelssohn later orchestrated the original piano parts‚ and it is sad that such delightful pieces should be neglected for not fitting easily into concert programmes. The interplay between Peterková and her accomplished partner‚ Nicolas Baldeyrou‚ on the bassett horn is a delight throughout‚ with the instruments blending as well as contrasting. Peterková’s pointing of rhythm with dotted notes exaggerated just enough to give a lift to the music‚ is masterly both in the two Mendelssohn pieces and in the two sets of Rossini variations‚ both of them very early works‚ written when he was in his teens‚ limbering up for his operatic career. This is fun music‚ a point clearly brought out by Peterková‚ with technical problems shrugged aside. In the mazurka passage of the Rossini Variations in C (track 6‚ 1'52") she points the rhythm so charmingly it almost makes you laugh out loud. The recording of the whole programme‚ made in Prague’s Demovina Studio‚ is immediate and detailed‚ giving plenty of body without any dryness.
-- Gramophone 4/2002
Mendelssohn's two Concert Pieces for clarinet and basset horn (1832) form the outer flanks of this delightful collection. The energetic D minor bounces along busily with clarinet and basset horn joining, splitting, and interweaving in some novel and ear-catching ways. The F minor sports a longer, more somber introduction as well as more recognizably Mendelssohnian harmonic contours. Listening to this combination of instruments is essentially like hearing a well-matched yet highly differentiated soprano and mezzo duo, which is pretty much how Ludmila Peterkova and Nicolas Baldeyrou play these pieces (especially the more lyrical F minor).
Although Rossini's Introduction, Theme, and Variations (1810) and Variation in C major (1809) predate his tremendously successful opera career, there's plenty that's recognizable from his "mature" style, especially in the florid "coloratura" solo writing, which Peterkova tosses off with smiling bravura. Max Bruch's far more restrained Concerto for Clarinet, Viola, and Orchestra (1913) forms the weighty centerpiece of the program. It's a finely wrought, modestly proportioned 19th century concerto that just happens to have been written at the same time as Stravinsky's Rite of Spring (that's Bruch for you). No matter, Peterkova's lush tone and Alexander Besa's delicate touch make this music a delightfully calming experience, one that's greatly enhanced by the enchanting atmosphere cultivated by Belohlavek and the musicians of the Prague Philharmonia. Supraphon's warm, naturally resonant, clearly detailed recording completes the package.
--Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday.com Read less
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