> Carl Maria von Weber [TB]: Classical Reviews- April 2002 MusicWeb-International

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Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Clarinet Concerto No. 1
Clarinet Concerto No. 2
Concertino for clarinet and orchestra
Frédéric Rapin (clarinet)
Philharmonie de Timisoara/Jean-François Antonioli
Rec April 1993 1993 (No. 1), March & August 1994 (No. 2 & Concertino), Musica Numeris, Brussels
TIMPANI 1C1031 [52.59]


Experience Classicsonline

Weber wrote all his clarinet music for Hermann Baermann, who takes as much credit for the creative fruits inspired by his artistry as Richard Mühlfeld (Brahms) and Anton Stadler (Mozart). For there is no question that the music Weber composed for Baermann is among the most significant ever written for the clarinet.

Weber's friendship with Baermann developed from the time of their second meeting - in Munich in 1811. As the composer was making preparations for a concert of his own works, he quickly wrote his Concertino for Baermann to play on this occasion. (Baermann had just been engaged as first clarinet in the court orchestra of King Maximilian I.) The King was so impressed with the performance of this new work that he immediately commissioned Weber to compose two Concertos, both of which were also completed in 1811.

Therefore the repertoire gathered on this attractive CD is very closely integrated. The performances are all pleasing, and so too the recorded sound, which offers a natural and unaffected balance, with the orchestra providing discreet support when required, but making an impact also. But what matters most in music of this kind is the artistry of the performers, and of the clarinettist in particular. Frédéric Rapin emerges from this analysis with all due credit, though his performances of the First Concerto and the Concertino are more successful than that of the Second Concerto, which somehow misses fire, even though all the notes are there.

The Concerto No. 1 receives a splendid interpretation, really fresh in its direct communication, and with telling balances of phrasing between the soloist and the conductor. The sense of occasion comes over to the listener, and the virtuosity is well captured by the engineers, without recourse to the vulgarity of close microphone placings. The opening of the Concerto (TRACK 1: 0.00) sets the tone and the pulse, at a sprightly but beautifully articulated Allegro pacing. For contrast the Adagio slow movement (TRACK 2: 0.00) is direct and eloquent, with sensitive phrasing and beautiful tone colour.

The short Concertino, which plays for less then ten minutes in a single movement, is equally enjoyable (TRACK 4: 2.23). Rapin's pleasing tone is heard to good effect, so too his fluid phrasing, while the orchestral tuttis bring a flourish of excitement whenever they occur.

Terry Barfoot



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