Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Clarinet Concerto in A major K622 (1791) (Reconstruction of the original version for basset clarinet) [26:46]
Sinfonia Concertante in E flat for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and orchestra K297b (c.1778) [29:21]
Franz KROMMER (1759-1831)
Concerto for two clarinets in E flat op.35 (c.1815) [19:35]
Sabine Meyer (basset clarinet/clarinet)
Diethelm Jonas (oboe) (K297b)
Bruno Schneider (horn) (K297b)
Sergio Azzolini (bassoon) (K297b)
Wolfgang Meyer (clarinet) (op.35)
Staatskapelle Dresden/Hans Vonk (K297b);
Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn/Jörg Faerber (op.35)
rec. Lukaskirche, Dresden, Germany (K622, K297b) 6-8 June 1990; Stadtkirche, Schwaigern, Germany (op.35) 31 May-3 June 1988. DDD.
EMI CLASSICS MASTERS 6 31795 2 [75:59]

This ‘EMI Masters’ series marks an impressive collection of ‘Great Classical Recordings’ from the vast archive of the EMI label. Evidently the recordings have been digitally re-mastered at the Abbey Road Studios using the original master tapes. I have a number of releases in this series and have been greatly impressed by the quality of both performance and recording.

This particular EMI Masters disc brings together three concertante scores that feature the wonderful clarinet playing of Sabine Meyer. Last month I attended a BBC Philharmonic concert at the Bridgwater Hall, Manchester with Sabine Meyer as soloist in Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No.1 (1811) and co-soloist in the Richard Strauss Duet-Concertino. Meyer was the most impressive soloist that I have ever seen in my concert-going career; a really remarkable performer.

The first work on the disc is the Clarinet Concerto in A major, K622 that Mozart wrote in 1791 for the famous clarinettist Anton Stadler. Originally the work was written for the low range of the basset clarinet - an instrument being championed by Stadler at the time. As the autograph score is now lost this recording uses a modern reconstruction based on Mozart’s surviving sketches of the original version for basset clarinet. With an extended opening Allegro the playing of Sabine Meyer is uplifting and gloriously vibrant. The frequently described sense of “autumnal beauty” is certainly present in the tender and serene Adagio. I especially enjoyed Meyer’s high-spirited and energetic account of the Rondo, Allegro so imbued with wit and merriment.

There are doubts expressed about the authenticity of the Sinfonia Concertante in E flat K297b. A Sinfonia Concertante for flute, oboe, horn and bassoon composed by Mozart in 1778 for the Concert Spirituel in Paris was lost. Recorded here is the version for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and orchestra put together by unidentified hands; it came to light in 1886. It is possible that the E flat score was not composed by Mozart at all, however, the quality of the music is extremely high. The delightful extended opening Allegro is abundant in attractive themes and is impressively played by the quartet of wind soloists. I found the Adagio highly melodic with an almost aria-like quality. The attractive finale contains a cheerful theme and a set of ten variations here engagingly and vibrantly communicated.

Franz Krommer, a prolific Moravian composer wrote a number of works for winds.
The Concerto for two clarinets in E flat, op.35 dates from around 1815 whilst Krommer was living in Vienna and was possibly for the virtuoso Anton Stadler. Although by no means a masterwork, Krommer’s Double Clarinet Concerto is pleasing and reasonably engaging. The score opens with an extended Allegro played by the Meyer siblings as a vibrant and appealing romp. With an opening that sounds highly operatic the Adagio contains music of a relaxing temperament if of a rather humdrum quality. The Rondo concluding the Concerto is given a bubbly, brisk and capricious interpretation.

The two Mozart scores have great appeal and are given marvellous performances by Sabine Meyer with sterling support from her fellow soloists and Staatskapelle Dresden under Hans Vonk. Although played with commitment and assurance in truth the Krommer score is rather unexceptional.

Michael Cookson

The Mozart scores have great appeal and are given marvellous performances