Carl Maria von WEBER
Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in f minor, Op. 73, J.114 [20:24]
Bassoon Concerto in F, Op. 75, J.127 [18:13]
Horn Concertino in e minor, Op. 45, J.188 [16:09]
Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra in c minor/E-flat, Op. 26,
Maximiliano Martín (clarinet); Peter Whelan (bassoon); Alec Frank-Gemmill
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Alexander Janiczek
rec. Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 5-9 September 2011. DSD.
Pdf booklet included with download
SACD, mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless downloads from linnrecords.com.
LINN RECORDS CKD409 [64:31]
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra are going from strength to strength
in their recordings for Linn; some have come very close for
me to being definitive, and this is as successful as any to
date. I liked the SCO with Robin Ticciati in Berlioz’ Symphonie
Fantastique – others were even more enthusiastic, with
Dan Morgan and Simon Thompson both making it Recording of
the Month – review
Their Mozart symphony recordings with Sir Charles Mackerras
were an all-round success: Nos.38-41, CKD308: Recording
of the Month – review
– and February 2009 Download
Roundup; Nos.29, 31-2, 35-6, CKD350 – review
and April 2010 Download
Roundup – Recording of the Month. With Alexander
Janiczek at the helm I greatly enjoyed their performance of
Mozart’s Colloredo Serenade and Divertimento
K521 on my first encounter with them (CKD320 – January 2009
Roundup), so it’s hardly surprising that the new recording
is such a delight.
Another reason for my lack of surprise at placing this new Linn
recording at the top of the tree is that I’m by no means the
first to sing its praises – it’s already received top rating
or something very close from at least three reviewers in music
magazines and one radio CD review.
The only reason that I can think why this wouldn’t feature as
a top choice for anyone in search of Weber’s concertos for wind
instruments would be a preference for the Chandos album which
features the second clarinet concerto in place of the bassoon
concerto, with Michael Collins playing the clarinet and conducting
and Stephen Stirling as horn soloist. Michael Cookson thought
that a fine release (CHAN10702 – see review).
Weber completists may like to note that Chandos have just squared
the circle as it were by offering the bassoon concerto, with
Karen Geoghegan as soloist, on a release which offers the two
Symphonies and the Berlioz orchestration of the Invitation
to the Dance (CHAN10748: BBCPO/Juan Menja).
I began with the expectation of comparing the new recordings
of the two clarinet works with Collins on Chandos and with what
have come to be generally regarded as the two benchmarks for
these works. The latter two offer both clarinet concertos, the
concertino and the orchestrated version of the Clarinet Quintet:
Sabine Meyer (EMI Great Recordings 5679882 – review
– or Sabine Meyer spielt Weber, identically coupled
on EMI Electrola Collection 6020962, both mid-price) and Martin
Fröst (BIS BIS-SACD-1523 – review).
These remain the top choices for anyone requiring Weber’s complete
output for the clarinet concertante. I hope to get
around to reviewing them in a future Download News. The Meyer
is especially good value as a download in 320kb/s mp3 from sainsburysentertainment.co.uk
at just £4.99 for the Electrola reissue, while the Fröst comes
in mp3, 16- and 24-bit sound from eclassical.com
as well as on SACD.
Maximiliano Martín’s performances, however, of the first clarinet
concerto and the concertino are so good and he’s so well supported
by the SCO and Alexander Janiczek as to stand their ground against
all comers. They capture both the sheer fun of the music – there’s
plenty of that – and the more reflective moods. I hope that
Martín will also give us the second clarinet concerto and the
quintet or its orchestrated version soon.
Much as I’d have liked to have had those other two clarinet
works, I certainly can’t complain about the performances of
the bassoon and horn works which separate the clarinet concerto
and concertino here. Not even Richard Strauss comes closer than
Weber to rivalling the Mozart horn concertos and Alec Frank-Gemmill
makes a very strong case for Weber. He shows us what Flanders
and Swann might have made into another success. Peter Whelan
makes an equally strong case for the bassoon concerto as a rival
to Mozart’s. A good question for a quiz night: name any composer
other than Vivaldi, Mozart and Weber who wrote a solo bassoon
I can’t think of the word ‘bassoon’ without thinking ‘buffoon’
and there’s plenty of buffoonery here, especially in the perky
finale, but Whelan also brings out the reflective, rather plangent
mood of the slow movement.
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Alexander Janiczek offer
ideal accompaniment throughout and the recording is equally
Both those Chandos recordings come in CD form and as a download
in mp3, 16-bit and 24/96, giving the Linn recording the edge
in that the physical disc is available as an SACD and as up
to 24/192 Studio Master download format. As I don’t yet have
a DAC that can cope with 24/192, I listened to the recording
in better-than-CD 24/96 format. That should give a fair indication
of what to expect from the SACD stereo layer of the equivalent
disc. I’ve been able to compare some recent Linn releases, though
not this one, in both formats. It’s very good indeed.
David Kettle’s notes in the booklet, which comes as a pdf document
for downloaders, are very valuable. They round off an excellent
release which should be strongly appealing to all but those
seeking all the clarinet concertante works on one disc.
For that they will need to turn to Meyer or Fröst, with Meyer
clearly replacing as bargain of choice the worthy performances
of the two clarinet concertos and concertino on Naxos 8.550378.