Notes and Editorial Reviews
Neidich plays on a modern reconstruction of an 1810 clarinet, Levin on an 1825 piano, and the gains are naturally most evident in the work which gives the closest ear to sonorities, Weber's Grand duo concertani. He wrote it for himself and his much-admired friend Heinrich Baermann, and it is not a clarinet sonata but exactly what it says, music for two virtuosos. The lighter piano textures are of great benefit in those passages where there is a danger of a modern piano overwhelming the clarinet. This is striking in the slow movement (where a long solo passage for the piano is also built into the music), but also in some of the dizzy figuration in the finale where the piano's right-hand speeds along in thirds beside the clarinet, especially with the piano taking the upper third. The virtuosity seems to hold no terrors for these skilled players, and they bring a suitably Weberian note of sinister darkness to the Andante and a witty flash to the final Rondo. The phrases are often very long: close recording means that Neidich's snatched breaths are very audible, and so are puffs in the middle of phrases suggesting that, unusually for a clarinettist, he is using the technique of 'circular breathing' (refilling the lungs through the nose while continuing to play with the reservoir of air in the mouth).
Danzi's Sonata is an amiable piece that shares with Weber's Duo an interest in giving the two partners equality by occasionally silencing the clarinet. It is charmingly invented, though not as forward-looking in manner as some of his music. Mendelssohn's Sonata is a good deal less evenly inspired than much of the music written in his dazzling teens, with some empty passagework that seems to be on automatic pilot in the outer movements contrasting with striking developmental sections where the composer takes the controls again. Much the most remarkable movement is the Andante, a curiously haunting little song first played on unaccompanied clarinet and charmingly deployed throughout the movement.
-- JW, Gramophone [9/1995]
Review of Sony 64302