Serenade: Songs for Clarinet
A delightful anthology of lovely songs transcribed for clarinet and strings by Fabian Müller that will surely be welcomed by all lovers of the clarinet – and indeed perhaps appeal to followers of the morning radio programmes of Classic FM, who often feature miniature masterpieces of this kind. Fabio Di Càsola creates a true vocal line. He plays gently and phrases persuasively, with warmly beautiful timbre, so that one hardly misses the words of these outstanding songs (except perhaps in Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’, Grieg’s ‘Ich liebe dich’ and Schumann’s ‘Mondnacht’).
He opens seductively with Schubert’s ‘Ständchen’, and all the other Schubert songs, because of their flexible melodic lines, sound most effective on the clarinet, especially ‘Nacht und Träume’, ‘Versunken’ and ‘Du bist die Ruh’. Schumann’s ‘Loreley’, ‘Herzleid’ and especially ‘Widmung’ similarly respond to Di Càsola’s melting timbre and subtle control of light and shade. The collection is perhaps at its finest in Grieg’s ‘Solveig’s Song’ and Brahms’s ‘Lerchengesang’, while Mozart’s ‘Der Zauberer’ makes a tripping contrast, and the other Mozart songs pleasingly contrast with Lieder written a century later.
‘Der Lindenbaum’ from Winterreise is surprisingly effective without the words; Brahms’s beautiful ‘Gestillte Sehnsucht’ perhaps less so, but it still has its viola obbligato, gently played by Ryszard Groblewski. (Indeed, the orchestral backing for this very fine song is particularly well managed.) Throughout, the intimate accompaniment by members of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra is judiciously scored to fit each song perfectly, and the recording is beautifully balanced and truthfully recorded in a warm acoustic. On the whole this is a great success.