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Spohr: Clarinet Concertos Nos. 1 And 3 / Potpourri, Op. 80

17 Aug 1994

£7.49 (VAT included if applicable)

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 17 Aug. 1994
  • Label: Naxos
  • Copyright: (C) 1994 Naxos
  • Total Length: 57:05
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001M00XGI
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 143,501 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I was not familiar with Spohr's compositions, but I bought this after hearing part of it on Classic fm and can understand why he was in his life more popular than his contemporary, Beethoven.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
very pleasant 18 Oct. 2005
By G. Metcalf - Published on
Format: Audio CD
These are well-played versions of these well-crafted works. The playing and recording quality are good. This composer wrote high quality music and these pieces are certainly representative. I would not describe this as an essential CD however. This stuff has a strong similarity to many other contemporaneous music. Probably most recommendable to those with a strong interest in Spohr or clarinet.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
You don't need to be a clarinetist ... 10 Oct. 2009
By Giordano Bruno - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
... to relish the moody beauty of the clarinet's timbre or to appreciate the splendid concertos that co-evolved with the instrument in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. The key names to 'search' are Stamitz, Krmmer, Mozart, Spohr, and Weber; their works for clarinet - in concertos, quintets, divertimentos, and even operas - are the core of the clarinetist's repertoire.

The clarinet gets its name from the clarino register of the trumpet, but the earlier single-reed 'chalumeau' got its name from the double-reed shawm (Schalmei in German). The proto-chalumeau of the 16th Century -- this is conjecture, mind you -- emerged from somewhere east of Hapsburg Austria. It was an instrument of limited range, about an octave plus one or two notes, very comparable to the capped-reed Krummhorns that were quite popular in Hapsburgia in the era of Isaac and Stoltzer. My guess is that it was played by the same people who played recorders and other winds with finger holes. The Krummhorn could never be 'overblown' to a higher octave as the recorder and cornetto could be, by using a thumb hole or thumb key. In fact, counterintuitively, when you overblow the chalumeau, you jump several notes rather than step up to a second octave. Thus -- again conjecturally -- the chalumeau followed the same path of development as the Krummhorn, toward a lower register by the use of right-hand keys. That would explain why the bassett-horn form of clarinet reached concert-worthiness before the five-key classical-era clarinet. Mozart's sublime clarinet quintet and concerto were both written for bassett instruments.

Louis Spohr (1784-1859) was a violinist of considerable reputation but a composer who was widely perceived as 'old-fashioned' in his own time. He was a reluctantly well-traveled sort of musician, bouncing from Russia to Italy to London and finally to Kassel, in what is now Germany, where he stayed for 35 years. The first of his clarinet concertos was composed in 1808, on commission, to be performed by clarinetist Johann Simon Hermstedt. Spohr claimed to have no prior experience with the clarinet, so it's quite likely that he worked closely with Hermstedt. In any case, all of Spohr's subsequent pieces for clarinet were also composed for performance by Hermstedt. Spohr's first effort involved passages that couldn't be well played on any existing clarinet, so Hermstedt either modified or secured modification of his instrument, meaning that Spohr's demands contributed to the evolution of the 'romantic' clarinet for which Weber was later to compose.

I have to disagree with previous reviewers about this recording of Spohr's clarinet music. I find the music itself first class but the performance rather lackluster. It's impossible to doubt that Spohr was aware of Mozart's clarinet compositions, and perhaps of Stamitz's also; the echoes are too obvious, especially in the adagio movements. Spohr's frolicking allegros and moonlit adagios, to my ears, do stand up to comparison with Mozart's. The performance recorded here, by the Slovak State Philharmonic, is solidly 'classical' in style and proficient technically, but the clarinetist, Ernst Ottensamer, doesn't excite me much. His fingering and articulations are excellent but his upper register is thin -- flutey, almost mosquito-ish -- enough so that his octaves tend to sound narrow. The CD is still enjoyable listening but I expect that I'll find myself looking for a replacement performance before long.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Great music, great value! 3 Oct. 2001
By Shager670 - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is a nice recording. Very engaging music, well played, well recorded. If you like the clarinet, you'll like this CD. For the price, it's a great buy.
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