Backofen is certainly
an obscure figure to most music-lovers. He was born in Durlach, Germany and aside
from taking to his musical studies like a duck to water
also proved a talented draughtsman and a gifted linguist.
Influenced by the Paris-based 19th century clarinet master
Xavier Lefèvre he wrote a number of works for clarinet.
Works for harp also feature in his catalogue. He was recognised
in the Gotha orchestra
as an outstanding player of clarinet, basset-horn and harp.
After Gotha his final
move was to the Darmstadt orchestra as part of the Court of Hesse. Ever the astute
entrepreneur he there established a wind instrument factory.
The language of these
three concertos is strikingly Mozartian at times (e.g. Jupiter
Symphony in the first and last movements of opp. 3 and
16). All the usual delightful clarinet virtues appear in
the golden middle movement of Op. 3, the finale of which
holds a few surprises. These include some almost Greek folksy
trills, bubbles and other endearments. The solo part of
Op. 16 suggests a cheeky Neapolitan
street singer. Some of the more animated writing looks forward
to Rossini's overtures ... and there is something of a facial
resemblance too. Op. 24 is ushered in by Beethovenian funereal
writing before Backofen's accustomed bel canto nonchalance
steps up to the line disarming and without a care in the
world. The Andante is in this one case rather more
perfunctory than the earlier middle movements.
Klöcker is a graceful
guide and a luminous-toned exponent. His orchestra is the
SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslauten which is stylishly conducted
by Johannes Moesus. This is by no means a luxury band and
a certain thinness can sometimes be noted. That said, attention
quite naturally fixes on the solo and there is plenty there
to distract and beguile.
no but they are eminently entertaining and touching and
administer a few surprises along the way.