Prequel: My thanks to a reader who has found this review wrongly listed by Amazon under other recordings as well as being correctly listed under the disc by Michael Collins. Unfortunately this is a common problem with listings with similar titles and cannot be corrected by reviewers. Please be patient and understanding and either scroll down past this review or read it for unintentional additional interest if appropriate! Thanks - Ian Giles .....................................
This disc, very well recorded in 2004, contains four of the ten works written for clarinet by Spohr. Of those ten works, four were concertos and all were written for Johann Hermstedt, a renowned clarinettist of the time. In this way Spohr joins the ranks of Mozart and Weber who also wrote for specific clarinettists.
Spohr was much admired as a composer during his life and these concertos make it clear why. They are relatively early works written when he was only 24 years old but even then he had secured the post of Music Director at the court of Gotha some four years earlier on the basis of hos compositional skills. His compositional interests were widespread and successful covering concertos and chamber music and extending to opera.
These two concertos are very well and memorably written with strong melody lines and containing entertaining pyrotechnical displays to show off both the player and the instrument. The success of the writing as music can be judged by the refusal of Hermstedt to alter any detail of the works when asked for his advice. Instead Hermstedt adjusted the clarinet to fit to the music by adding extra keys and changing the clarinet from a five to a thirteen keyed instrument. Following on from the success of the performances Spohr was commissioned to write two more concertos and other shorter works which continued to enjoy similar success. These concertos can easily be considered to be the equal of the Weber concertos from approximately the same period. They have much the same appeal and for the same reasons.
In this performance Michael Collins, a leading British player, rises to all technical and musical challenges and delivers performances of skill and enjoyment. The Swedish orchestra under Robin O'Neill provide excellent and vibrant support. This is a considerably finer disc than the ones on the reliable Naxos label, enjoyable as they are. This is very much a case of the excellent being the enemy of the good.
In summary therefore I would suggest that this disc deserves to take the leading position in any short-list of discs to be considered of these concertos or their accompanying works.
never haing heard of Spohr before his 4 clarinet concertoes were a revalation to hear. The clarinetist is excellent and his interpretation of the works is second to none.What a find thanks to Classic FM magazine.