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Mozart: Clarinet Concerto, Clarinet Quintet
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 20 September 2007
I can't agree with the other reviews for this CD; (Bar 1) it is delightful and relaxing! One of my Sunday morning favourites. The CD is in perfect stereo and balance isn't a problem.A splendid buy!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2007
I initially bought this recording for two reasons. The first, as my title suggests, is that it was recommended as the best by BBC Music Magazine, and having read the article, I decided it was worth a try. Furthermore, I am a clarinettist and my teacher was taught by Thea King on this disk, so this is naturally the recording I should own.

I would have to agree with BBC Music. The concerto is wonderfully handled at the much slower tempi. King obviously understands the feel of this autumnal concerto, and taking it at this speed avoids the sadly common scrappy playing and breakneck speeds associated with the music. The decision to use the basset clarinet was, I feel the right one. In fact, I refuse to buy a recording on the normal instrument as recordings such as this one and Sabine Meyer's have converted me.

The opening movemnt of the concerto has a fairly relaxed feeling and this conveys a different mood to the listener. This is most obvious at the cadenzas, which remain simple, understated flourishes. Many a clarinettist now records long cadnzas in this movement that feel like they belong to another work altogether. The cadnza in the adagio is also expertly handled, performed in one breath as was the tradition of Mozart's time.

Despite the relatively slow tempo, the rondo still retains the playful lilt that is imperative for the movement. It still has the relaxed Mozart feel lackinmg from so many of today's recordings and the finale is still magnificant: a feature that has thankfully remained in modern versions.

The quintet is sadly recorded in mono, and can sound like some instruments are at the end of a long corridor in a cathedral. Lovely though the sound may be, it is still important to hear it properly with all the parts at equal balance to appreciate it fully.

However, it remains wonderful, and the communication between soloist and quartet is amazing. They work together to produce a beautiful sound and this is eviden throught the opus. Thea King once again makes us of the original Basset Clarinet, and this adds more depth to the sound of the piece.

There are however, some down sides to this recording. The actual instrument used is an early reconstruction, and sounds good but not great. Although it probably sounds very similar to the origibal instrument used, nothing compares to the modern basset sound. Furthermore, use of the extended range is occasionally questionable; the end of the concerto's adagio is not the right place to use that warm tone, but it is used here.

Despite that limitation, I would wholeheartidly recomment this recording to anyone looking for this concerto, for pleasure or professional reasons.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2002
I am really delighted with the disc.
The balance doesn't seem to be a problem and the performances are good.
In the Quintet there is a good interplay between the clarinet and the quartet and the clarinet takes its place as the solo lead.
Buy it - it is worth it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is one of thirty "seminal recordings" out of the thousands in their catalogue which Hyperion reissued to celebrate their 30th birthday, and it certainly deserves to be among them. I have a number of recordings of both these works and this is by some distance my favourite of both.

The music itself is sublime. It is certainly among the best of both Mozart's orchestral and chamber music and shows Mozart's true genius with plenty of emotion, charm and verve. The slow movements of both the concerto and the quintet are indescribably beautiful, made more so by these wonderful performances.

Dame Thea King was a wonderful clarinettist and she is at her best here. She plays a basset clarinet in both works and the sound she produces from her instrument is just fabulous. She has the immense skill to make it sound as if there is no skill involved so that it feels utterly natural and effortless, and her phrasing and beautiful inflection make the whole disc shine with joy and beauty. Both the ECO and the Gabrieli Quartet are excellent - supple and beautifully balanced, they bring out the music's wonderful qualities without once straying into the sugary nonsense which mars some Mozart recordings. The recorded sound is excellent.

This is a disc which I play again and again with undiminished pleasure. Now it is at mid-price it is an unmissable buy and I recommend it in the strongest terms.

(You may like to know that this magnificent disc has now been re-released by Hyperion at mid-price: Mozart: Clarinet Concerto/ Clarinet Quintet. Snap it up - it's a gem!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2013
This CD contains superb performances of two great clarinet works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,the Concerto and the Quintet,both written towards the end of his life,and sharing a certain Autumnal beauty.
Thea King plays a basset clarinet on this recording, which gives greater depth to the music and is what Mozart seems to have intended.Her playing is as expressive and sensitive as you could wish for.She is very well accompanied by the English Chamber Orchestra,conducted by Jeffrey Tate in the concerto,and by the Gabrieli String Quartet in the chamber work.
Don't be put off by any criticism of the sound quality.Both works were recorded in 1985 in excellent digital sound.
This is a very good version of this popular coupling of Mozart's clarinet works and I am happy to recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2010
The Larghetto from the Quintet is one of the most beautiful pieces of music you will ever hear. In this version the violin seems to float above the clarinet. Sheer beauty that needs to be heard to be believed.
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on 17 February 2011
An excellent recording and top class playing from soloist and orchestra. The Basset Clarinet seems to have a greater richness and depth over the standard instrument.
This is most evident in the 2nd movement of the Clarinet Concerto, made popular when used as part of the incidental music in the film Out of Africa.
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11 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2001
It took my 5 months to get a copy of this CD even though Hyperion had told me it is their second biggest seller. I played the Quintet first and it wasn't worth the wait.
Dame Thea's playing is lovely and for all I know the Gabrieli's playing is too - but here is the problem and the reason for only two stars. For whole of the piece the string players, with the exception (for the most part) of the 'cellist, sound as though they are either in the next room or at the end of a longish tunnel (maybe they got locked in the lavatory?).

Perhaps I am wrong to assume that a Clarinet Quintet is a musical partnership with the clarinettist as 'first among equals'? Or did Mozart subtitle his wonderful piece 'For Clarinet with String Quartet lurking for the most part in the middle distance'? I which case the Recording Engineers have done him proud.
My apparent flippancy reflects my severe disappointment that such a marvellous piece of music, seemingly beautifully played, should be so shabbily handled by the recording staff at Hyperion.
My sincere recommendation to any potential buyers is to look elsewhere, as I wish I had done and so saved my money.
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