This unpretentious release turns out to be a real gem. What these works share in common is their French origin and beautifully recorded, first-rate performances by clarinetist Ron Samuels and friends. The Devienne work dates from the eighteenth century, the Duvernoy the nineteenth, and the Françaix and Auric the twentieth. None are major compositions, but they are all well crafted and together provide an enjoyable program.
Duvernoy (1766-1845) was a contemporary of Carl Stamitz (1745-1801), who is well known for his clarinet concertos. Duvernoy composed the Concerto No. 3 about thirty years after Mozart composed his clarinet concerto (1791) and seven years after Weber composed his two and a concertino for clarinet. TheRead more concerto, which this release claims receives its “world premiere recording,“ is in the Classical style, reminiscent of Mozart with a few gestures toward Weber.
Françaix's Tema con Variazioni, composed in 1974, is a masterpiece of French understatement and wit, a charming miniature divided into eight sections, three of which last less than one minute each. Auric's Imaginées III is dedicated to the memory of Alban Berg and part of a group of works for solo instruments and piano composed between 1968 and 1973. It is an astringent work with a twinge of Romanticism compressed into less than six minutes. Devienne's three-movement Sonata for Clarinet and Piano is lyrical, inventive, and in the mainstream of the Classical period.
All the performances are worthy ones. Samuels, principal clarinetist of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, preforms the works skillfully and stylishly with verve and impressive musicianship. Pianist Frances Renzi, a Professor of Piano at the University of Toledo, is an experienced chamber-music player who adds measurably to the success of the performances. James Meena, who conducts the Collaborative Arts Chamber Orchestra, is Resident Conductor and Artistic Director of the Toledo Opera. The orchestra was founded in 1991 by Samuels and draws musicians from Toledo and adjacent areas. The orchestra doesn't have much to do in the Duvernoy, but it performs competently. The performances were beautifully recorded at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle. Samuels in addition to his other responsibilities wrote the notes and produced the recording. This is an offbeat but totally enjoyable release.
Concerto for Clarinet no 3 in B flat majorby Alphonse Duvernoy Performer:
Ron Samuels (Clarinet)
Collaborative Arts Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: France Length: 22 Minutes 9 Secs.