Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Oboe Concerto in C, K314, arr. Siegenthaler for clarinet[19:11]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Clarinet Concerto No 1 in F minor, Op 73 [20:48] Bernhard Henrik CRUSELL(1775-1836)
Clarinet Concerto No 3 in B flat, Op 11 [23:07]
Stephan Siegenthaler (clarinet)
Cappella Istropolitana/Kaspar Zehnder
rec. 20-22 September 2010, Moyzes Hall, Bratislava
SHEVA COLLECTION SH040 [63:06]
Stephan Siegenthaler has taken an unusual path to a recording
career. He studied the clarinet in school and had an active
chamber and orchestral life until 1995, when he jumped into
the medical industry as managing director of a device corporation.
Recently Siegenthaler has returned (“after the sale of the company
to a global player”) to professional playing and teaching of
His very classical recital here begins with a Mozart clarinet
concerto — but not that one! This is Siegenthaler’s own
arrangement of the oboe concerto K. 314. I’d challenge that
a bit more — do we really need a second clarinet concerto? —
except that Siegenthaler’s transcription is so natural, so effortless,
that it really feels like an original piece. The soloist lavishes
obvious affection on his instrument’s turns of phrase, too.
The cadenza, by Kurt Meier, sounds like a clarinet original
as well, really milking the instrument’s rich lower range.
The other two concertos here are masterworks. Carl Maria von
Weber’s first concerto is a fairly well-known classic; Bernhard
Crusell’s third concerto is less celebrated, but there are some
superb Crusell CDs about, starting with Martin Fröst’s account
of the three concertos on BIS, a gem of great clarinet playing.
Siegenthaler delivers a very good reading of the Weber, let
down a little by the unthreatening ensemble at the end of the
first movement and an occasional tendency to be piercing in
the slow movement. That same movement, though, features lovely
interplay with and between the horns, and the finale is bubbly
and pleasing. Those adjectives are doubly true of the Crusell,
though Fröst’s playing is even cooler, even more refined, as
is that of his orchestra, the Gothenburg Symphony.
The Slovak backing band, the Cappella Istropolitana, has a good
handle on classical style and phrases the works refinement,
but the violins’ timbre sounds consistently a bit scratchy and
unsteady. It is surprising, really, since they were models of
tonal beauty when recording Suk and Dvorák serenades for Naxos
twenty years ago. Naxos’ old Slovak producers are in charge
here, too, and if anything their preference has gone from too-recessed
to too-close sound: we can hear many of Siegenthaler’s clicks.
Sheva Collection, a label which I’d never heard before, offers
a fairly cheaply produced disc using what appears to be a CD-R
(the data surface is still blue).
If you’d like to hear the natural, ear-pleasing arrangement
of Mozart’s oboe concerto for clarinet, none of that should
deter you. The quality of playing here is well above that of
a vanity production, and so is the collection’s value.
Sheva Collection CDs can be hard to find. The best place to
grab a physical copy is here on MusicWeb International, where
the entire catalog is available and shipped worldwide with postage
paid. Amazon offers an MP3 version of the full album for half
the price (search “siegenthaler clarinet”), but neither Amazon
nor MDT have the physical disc.
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