Clarinet Classics at Riversdale (Robert DiLutis)
Sometimes, not as often as I would like, one listens to a new disc and knows from the very first phrase that it is a winner. This superbly performed programme is one such, a joy to listen to, neatly arranged, mixing the familiar with the less so, alternating ensemble works for all five players with solo works for Robert DiLutis to showcase his wonderfully warm tone and virtuoso technique.
Weber’s Clarinet Quintet (1811 15) is the major item, described aptly by DiLutis in his booklet essay as ‘for clarinettists a dream come true’ – confirmed by the dozens of recordings currently available. While the present couplings for it are unique (Weber’s concertos or the Mozart Quintet are more usual), this recording is definitely competitive, beautifully played by DiLutis and accompanied in exemplary fashion by the Mellifera Quartet. Weber composed it for Heinrich Baermann, a gifted – if minor – composer in his own right, represented here by the wistful Adagio from his Third Quintet. It is a shame the entire work could not be included, though this movement enjoys a separate existence. The final ensemble piece is Glazunov’s Rêverie orientale (1886), a lovely inspiration which is confused in the track-listing with the later – and much shorter – Rêverie for horn, Op 24 (1890).
The three unaccompanied pieces are every bit as rewarding. Rózsa’s Sonatina, Op 27 (1951), is a hugely involving diptych comprising a theme and variations followed by a gypsy dance, the whole oozing Hungarian atmosphere. Erland von Koch’s Monolog 3 (1973), the third of a series of 17 for different instruments, is another diptych, cooler in temperature but no less passionate. The Rhapsody (1952) by William Osborne (1906 79) is a real find, based on an old Asian melody (a touch after Hovhaness’s manner) and also exists in a version for bassoon.