Clarinet Concertos

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Clarinet Concertos

  • Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra
  • Concerto for Clarinet and Strings No. 6
  • Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra

When a Molter concerto first reached England at the end of the Second World War (one of a set of five of about 1740, labelled ''earliest known clarinet concertos''), some eminent clarinettists, Frederick Thurston among them, were inclined to doubt if the solo line had really been meant for a clarinet; it lies consistently at the top of the treble stave or higher. But it doesn't seem suitable for any other instrument and it was eventually accepted that it was intended for the small two-keyed clarinet in D. Molter wrote these and many other works (170 symphonies, believe it or not) while he was working for the Margrave of Baden. With music flowing from his pen in such a Telemann-like profusion, you might not expect much substance, but in fact this concerto is quite as interesting as either of the others on this disc. The slow movement is expressive, the final minuet charming and you soon get used to the rather squeaky solo line. But it will be a long time before anyone gets to grips with Molter's vast output as a whole.
The Pleyel is not listed in Grove unless it be the concerto suitable for clarinet, flute or cello, but if it is, the solo part must have been heavily rewritten to make it so idiomatic. Pleyel, a pupil of Haydn, wrote it about 1797. The first movement is rambling, the second sauve, the whole agreeable though never arresting. Pleyel wrote his best music earlier than this.
Mercadante (1795-1870) seldom wrote anything but operas of which there are about 60. This concerto is a very early work in two movements, the second a set of pleasant variations in which the oboe also receives preferential treatment. Thomas Friedli, a member of the Berne Symphony Orchestra, plays all these works with competence and style; it is no surprise to learn that he has won a number of prizes. The record gives a good, well-balanced sound, and as a curiosity it is well worth considering.'

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