Backofen: Clarinet Concertos
Johann Georg Heinrich Back(h)ofen (1768-1830?9) was a German composer, clarinet virtuoso, he played the harp, flute, and basset horn, and wrote these concertos not only for himself, but his brother and the clarinet-playing East Elbe Baron Reibnitz. Backofen fills in the gap between classicism and romanticism of classical music at the same time filling in a gap for music written for clarinet and orchestra. He made great strides in music for the harp, which was evolving at the time adding pedals and chromatics and wrote some wonderful music. He also was a teacher in the harp and introduced Dorette Scheidler, a pupil of his, to Louis Spohr and they married.
We are seeing more music being found from the lesser known composers of this time period and being well-recorded, Pleyel, Kozeluch, Rosetti, Hummel, Cartellieri, and Wilms. These composers put a slightly different spin to the music of the classical era. Also, remember, Spohr and von Weber were composing exceptional works as well. It fits well that you'd have composers that were well funded, had exposure, and were very talented, considered the giants in the field of composition. While others, of slightly lesser talent wrote some very well composed music as well, but were not in the right place at the right time. Publishing, at that time, was expensive, so you'd get the great composers works out first and when work was slower you'd publish the lesser knowns.
Backofen's music is very good and shows moods, emotion, heartfeltness, peacefulness, and at times a bit gloomy, but there are bright cheerful parts that are contrasting making the music interesting. There parts where the virtuosity is clearly in command and then in contrast Backofen uses the tonal colors of the clarinet to bring an evocative emotion found in the middle to lower range of the clarinet. Giving these works a full-bodied range showing the singing ability of the clarinet. Backofen uses the timpani to make a statement and uses the accompanying winds in the orchestra as an answer the virtuoso giving the music a counterpoint, a splendid correspondence, a conversation between orchestra and virtuoso.
Concertos for Clarinet and Orchestra Total Time 68:57
Clarinet Concerto Op.3 in B flat major 23:45
1. Allegro risouto 10:46
2. Adagio 5:40
3. (Cadenza) - Rondo alla spagnola. Tempo di Polacca 7:19
Clarinet Concerto Op.16 in E flat major 20:42
1. Allegro giusto 12:09
2. Adagio non tanto 3:42
3. Rondo al Espagnol. Tempo di Polacca 4:51
Clarinet Concerto Op.24 in E flat major 24:06
1. Adagio ma non troppo - Allegro maestoso 10:14
2. Andante 7:20
3. (Rondo) Tempo di Polacca 6:32
Dieter Klocker, Clarinet
SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslautern conducted by Johannes Moesus
This CD has a SPARS Code: DDD and was recorded at the SWR Studio Kaiserslautern on March 29 - April 26-29, 2004. The label is CPO which brings to the listening public lesser known, neglected or ignored music. This is a very well-engineered recording and has excellent tonal colors, with spatial separation and depth gradation. Dieter Klocker uses his artistic interpretation and makes the clarinet sing in this recording, with naturalness but vivacious.