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.
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.