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Louis Spohr - The Forgotten Master / Paul Meyer

Spohr / Orchestre De Chambre De Lausanne / Meyer
Release Date: 08/14/2012 
Label:  Alpha Productions   Catalog #: 605   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Louis Spohr
Performer:  Paul Meyer
Conductor:  Paul Meyer
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 32 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SPOHR Clarinet Concertos: No. 1 in c; No. 2 in E?; No. 3 in f; No. 4 in e Paul Meyer (cl, cond); Lausanne CO ALPHA 605 (2 CDs: 92:17)

The four clarinet concertos by Louis Spohr (1784–1859) have fared well on disc, relatively speaking. Notorious for their difficulty, these works have been slow to win champions among top-flight clarinetists, but the tide is turning. This is, by my count, their sixth integral recording—see my review of Michael Collins’s Hyperion disc of Nos. 3 and 4 in Read more style="font-style:italic">Fanfare 32:1. Paul Meyer is a French clarinetist—no relation, apparently, to the German siblings Sabine and Wolfgang Meyer—who has recorded a number of CDs on various labels including Denon and EMI. For Alpha he has previously recorded the clarinet chamber music of Schumann. I believe the present recording, in which he also serves as conductor, is his first in that capacity.

One of the first things one notices about these performances is the tempos. Meyer plays these works consistently faster than either Collins or Karl Leister (Orfeo); I have not heard the Naxos versions by Ernst Ottensamer. Meyer’s tempos in Allegro movements are fearsome, his playing fleet and flashy, with formidable fingerwork and machine-gun tonguing. Only occasionally do the tempos seem to reduce the potential subtlety. In the slow movements Meyer plays Spohr’s long-spun phrases exquisitely; especially notable is his lovely pianissimo playing. Many passages feature solo winds in the orchestra, and take on an intimate, chamber-like quality with the integration of Meyer’s playing into the orchestral texture. Meyer’s sound is light and sweet in comparison to, say, Leister’s big, plummy tone or Collins’s fine but more generic clarinet sound.

In fact, there’s little fault to be found with any of the three versions; in a way they complement one another, representing three different clarinet sound-concepts but equally valid interpretive approaches. If you’re really serious about these pieces you should have the single EMI disc including performances of No. 2 by Julian Bliss and No. 4 by Sabine Meyer; otherwise it’s really a matter of taste.

Alpha’s sound is ideal in its clarity and balances. Only the short duration of the CDs is cause for some complaint, especially at the retail price of $31.98. Then again, Leister and Collins are even more expensive, although the latter includes two shorter works of Spohr for clarinet and orchestra. In any event, all three are keepers; you pays your money and takes your pick.

FANFARE: Richard A. Kaplan
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Works on This Recording

Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in C minor, Op. 26 by Louis Spohr
Performer:  Paul Meyer (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Paul Meyer
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808 
Venue:  Salle Métropole, Lausanne, Switzerland 
Length: 18 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 57 by Louis Spohr
Performer:  Paul Meyer (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Paul Meyer
Period: Classical 
Written: 1810 
Venue:  Salle Métropole, Lausanne, Switzerland 
Length: 22 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Clarinet Concerto No. 3 in F minor, WoO 19 by Louis Spohr
Performer:  Paul Meyer (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Paul Meyer
Period: Classical 
Written: 1821 
Venue:  Salle Métropole, Lausanne, Switzerland 
Length: 24 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Clarinet Concerto No. 4 in E minor, WoO 20 by Louis Spohr
Performer:  Paul Meyer (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Paul Meyer
Period: Classical 
Written: 1828 
Venue:  Salle Métropole, Lausanne, Switzerland 
Length: 25 Minutes 17 Secs. 

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