Weber Clarinet Concertos; Clarinet Quintet

A master clarinettist serves up a tempting dish of Weber

Author: 
John Warrack
weber frost

Weber Clarinet Concertos; Clarinet Quintet

  • Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra No. 1
  • Quintet for Clarinet and Strings
  • Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra No. 2
  • Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra

Martin Fröst's style of playing is well suited to Weber: he has a clear, fresh tone and fingers undefeated by even the most sensational of the applause music that ends some of these works. He is not afraid of considerable tempo variations within a movement, as Weber is on record as having wanted.

This all contributes to a charming, eloquent performance of the Concertino. However, the F minor Concerto (No 1) does not need its opening Allegro to be taken quite so fast for it to make its points, and the finale, here sounding like a brisk allegro verging on presto, is actually marked Allegretto, which gives the music more space and freedom. The slow movements of both concertos are played simply, without affectation, and Fröst remembers that the alla polacca of the finale of No 2 is a dance. He takes a bright lead in the Quintet; it is played here as a concerto with full strings, which is a pity but, given the quatuor concertant nature of the work, not as disastrous as it would be with Mozart. This is a fresh, amiable performance that responds to the music's varied nature.

Fröst also plays some cadenzas of his own, rejecting those which were later added by Carl Baermann, son of the much-admired dedicatee of the works, Heinrich Baermann. He further adds a few flourishes: unnecessarily, but there is no need to be too purist here. These are attractive, exhilarating performances, clearly recorded so as to do justice to the orchestral effects which were always part of Weber's exuberant invention.

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