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Romantic Music from Estonia
Iwan MULLER (1780-1854)

Grande Polonaise for Harp with obbligato Clarinet and Bassoon [9:39]; Fantasy on Themes from Operas by Rossini Op.27 [19:08]; Duo Concertant for Clarinet, Bassoon and Harp [7:57]; Romanza di Blangini for Clarinet and Harp [5:58]; First Fantasy on a Barcarolle for Clarinet and Harp [4:17]; Duet on Three Arias from Armida by Rossini for Clarinet, Bassoon and Harp [21:05] ; Variations on Mozart’s aria "O dolce Concento" [7:48].
Olivier Darteville (clarinet)
Rachel Talitman (harp)
Luc Loubry (bassoon)
Emmanuel Chaussade (alto clarinet).
No rec. info. DDD
TALENT DOM 2910 84 [64:13]

Perhaps the name ‘Muller’ conjures up a German centre-forward but this one was originally from Estonia. Despite the title of the disc, you should go elsewhere if it is a flavour of Estonian music you are seeking (try any of the BIS Tubin discs). As it turns out, Iwan Muller went West as a young man (settling in Paris in 1810) and it shows in his music. But don’t let me put you off this disc, which is very pleasant listening.

If you have heard of Muller before and you’re not Estonian then you must either be musically "well-read" or a clarinetist. Apparently Muller made significant contributions to the development of the instrument as well as composing a fair amount for it. The music on this disc features interesting combinations of clarinet, bassoon and harp and, in the final piece Variations on Mozart’s aria "O dolce Concento", all these instruments plus an alto clarinet (a picture of which in the booklet suggests it has the shape of an overgrown saxophone). Two other works on the disc take their themes from Rossini and, indeed, there is nothing very original about the music itself but the combination of instruments is unusual and pleasing on the ear. To my mind the best piece on the disc is the first – Grande Polonaise for Harp with obbligato Clarinet and Bassoon.

Olivier Darteville is the clarinetist and his playing is elegant with consistently fine tone. The other musicians also make excellent contributions and the harpist Rachel Talitman is kept busy. The recording is exemplary. The only significant criticisms I have relate to presentation: the track numbers on the rear inset do not match those on the disc and some of the English translation gives cause for merriment. We are told that Olivier Darteville "… anxiously diversifies his activities and is moving more and more into the direction as a composer, particularly in the domain of musical fairytales." Never mind the anxious diversification and fairytales, Olivier – keep making interesting records! There is nothing profound here but it is something of a find – recommended.

Patrick Waller

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