One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!

Quite splendid

Winning performances

Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc

a huge talent

A wonderful disc

Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!

Roth’s finest Mahler yet

Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Phoenix in Flight
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786 - 1826)
Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra in C minor/E flat major, J.109/Op.26 (1811) [10:30]
Giovanni BOTTESINI (1821 - 1889)
Duetto [9:59]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862 - 1918)
Première Rhapsodie (1910) [9:18]
Carl Maria von WEBER
Clarinet Concerto No.2 in E flat major, Op.74 (1811) [25:01]
Peter TCHAIKOVSKY (1840 - 1893)
Herbstlied (arr. Takemitsu) [4:41]
Richard Stoltzman (clarinet); Richard Fredrickson (double-bass) (Bottesini)
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Kirk Trevor
rec. May 2002 (Rhapsodie and Concerto No.2), May 2003 (Concertino), May 2005 (Duetto) and June 2005 (Herbstlied), Bratislava, Slovakia

Experience Classicsonline

When I listened to this collection, my first thought was - how singular Richard Stoltzman's clarinet sound is. It is not soft and flat, as some clarinets can be. This sound is very convex, energetic, with high vibrato, very youthful and confident, very concentrated. The technique is perfect: one can forget that the clarinet is a wind instrument, so assured is the breathing. Still ... something is missing: I would say - grace. The album is called "Phoenix is Flight", but this flight involves a lot of muscle work; there is little of the free soaring one would expect.

The program is a mixed bowl. Between two Weber works there is a Duetto for clarinet and double-bass by the little-known Bottesini which you probably have never heard before, and Debussy's Première Rhapsodie which is stylistically very different from the rest. An arrangement of Tchaikovsky's Autumn Song (from The Seasons) serves as a peaceful encore. I can't see what holds these pieces together besides the performer. So imagine that you attend an all-Stoltzman concert. Probably I am missing some implication of the disc title - but I am missing it.

Between Mozart and Brahms, it's probably Weber who did the most for the clarinet. His Concertino does not follow the standard 19th century concerto pattern. Its structure is closer to a bel canto aria. First there is a slow, heavy introduction (the overture to Don Giovanni comes to mind), then the animated, elaborate cabaletta, ending in a fast bravura part. Busoni's cadenza is nice, but seems to lose the pace.

Bottesini was a great double-bass virtuoso, so he had to write something for himself, since nobody else did. Maybe the Duetto sounded more balanced in its initial form for bass and violin. Between two such different voices as clarinet and double-bass, the problem of balance is inherent. Probably it cannot be done better than on this recording - still, the clarinet easily grabs the stage. We are not used to a double-bass singing in its high register. It does this like a sore-throat cello so there are some comical impressions which were hardly intended by the composer. Remember dancing elephants from Saint-Saëns' Carnival? The piece is good for one hearing, but its musical content does not really justify repetitive listening.

Première Rhapsodie, on the contrary, is a wonderful creation, full of Debussy's magic. You can approach it either as an impressionistic orchestral work with clarinet obbligato - or as a work for clarinet with orchestra - a kind of a mini-concerto. Stoltzman follows the latter approach. It makes sense, since the work was originally a competition piece for clarinet. Still, it seems that some of the delicate layers of Debussy's tone-writing are lost behind the clarinet, which is very prominent. Again, it could be more graceful. Still, the result is very colorful.

Weber's Second Concerto does not come naturally after Debussy. However, it is very well played. The dreamy second movement is surely one of the high points of the disc. Its melancholy is hushed, beautiful melodies reach the heart, long notes and trills captivate. It brings to mind some of Mozart's slow movements. The framing parts are more Rossini-like, cheerful and daring. Stoltzman's virtuosity is dazzling.

Another unnatural jump - to Tchaikovsky's autumnal elegy. The clarinet sound is beautiful. The arrangement by Toru Takemitsu is very faithful to the original, carefully shadowed. But I do not feel the due melancholy in the music. The nocturne turned into a concert aria.

The recording quality is excellent. The orchestra backs the soloist perfectly, and is wonderfully sensitive in Debussy and in Weber's slow movement. The liner-notes are not especially generous; still, they give us two interesting personal looks: of Stoltzman on the pieces, and of the conductor, Kirk Trevor, on his good friend Stoltzman. The disc also contains PDF files of the clarinet parts.

The overall feeling I got is: yes, this is great clarinet playing. Such range, such ease! But it's more for the sake of clarinet playing than for the sake of the music itself.

Oleg Ledeniov 

see also review by Bob Briggs



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.