Krommer lived as a contemporary to Mozart and Beethoven (1759-1831) and during his lifetime was both a popular and prolific Czech composer. His 300 works or so are grouped under 110 opus numbers and include at least 5 symphonies, 15 string quintets, 70 string quartets and numerous works for wind including the three concertos heard on this disc.
His style is consistent throughout and is readily recognisable. It is predominately lyrical, with bouncy and catchy outer movements which are frequently busy and entertaining. Slow movements are melodic. Some of his dance-like movements are Czech in flavour. Just as his work is recognisable, well written, entertaining and frequently quite catchy melodically, it is also fair to say that once it has finished it is hard to remember anything memorable about it, unlike Mozart or Beethoven for example. This goes some long way to explain why those two composers are far more significant in terms of musical importance. Whereas Mozart and Beethoven could be described as the best of the top rank composers of their time, Krommer could reasonably be described as writing excellent second rank music, hence his obvious popularity.
Although none of these three concertos is therefore in the same class as Mozart's concerto, they nevertheless are very enjoyable and entertaining in their own way and as described above. They receive good performances from Berkes and his colleagues and the recording is well balanced. The double concerto abounds in runs constructed in pleasing intervals of 3rds and 6ths which make for easy listening, all of which sounds completely natural and somewhat predictable. It is difficult to write at further length about these amenable works as that is their main characteristic and considering development of themes or motifs is not applicable or relevant.
I would suggest that this disc is well worth considering as an enjoyable entertainment and which could find a place in many collections. This is how it was conceived and this is how it is best enjoyed. On those terms it should give plenty of pleasure to plenty of people.
on 23 May 2011
Having played clarinet in my youth,I was delighted to discover these concertos.The first and third are for 2 clarinets,the main soloist being Kalman Berkes,and also in the second for solo clarinet.Each concerto lasts about 20 minutes,in classical style with 3 movements.I highly recommend these fresh and lively pieces.