Ernst, Daniel, Andreas Ottensamer (clarinets)
Christoph Traxler, František Jánoška (piano)
Full track-listing giving at the end of the review
rec. 1, 3, 5 May 2014, Casino Baumgarten, Vienna
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4811917 [56:50]
This is Andreas Ottensamer’s third album on Deutsche Grammophon; a review of the second can be found here. This time he is playing alongside his father and brother, both of whom also play the clarinet. Father Ernst Ottensamer has been a Principal Clarinet with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra since 1983. Brothers Daniel and Andreas are principal clarinets with the Vienna Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic respectively. This father-and-sons team formalized their special ensemble in 2005 as “The Clarinotts”, and this is the ensemble’s first album on Mercury Classics/Deutsche Grammophon. For those of you who watched the 2016 Vienna New Year’s Concert, you would have seen The Clarinotts perform as part of the intermission feature.
The pieces featured on this album involve a mixture of arrangements and one newly commissioned piece. Daniel and Andreas grew up hearing father Ernst in the pit of the Vienna State Opera before they joined the same institution; Andreas has since left. Their life-long experience with and for operas is shown through the four opera-themed selections on this disc.
The disc opens with Mendelssohn’s Concert Piece for Clarinet, Basset Horn and Orchestra No.1 Op. 113, written for the father-and-son clarinet duo of Heinrich and Carl Baermann. This arrangement was made by prolific arranger Rainer Schottstädt, who also made the arrangements for the Doppler and Jean Françaix pieces featured here.
Two operatic arrangements follow: trio “Soave si il vento” from Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and of the Doppler brothers’ Fantasy on Themes from Verdi’s Rigoletto, originally composed for two flutes and piano. Two more works by operatic composers round out the selection of music from the 19th century. Rossini’s La Danza has been sung/played by countless performers in various arrangements over the years. Here it is prefaced by the Ranz des Vaches from the Overture to William Tell in an arrangement made for The Clarinotts. Ponchielli’s Il Convegno was originally written for two solo clarinets with band accompaniment, here played in The Clarinotts’ own arrangement for two clarinets and strings.
The 20th and 21st century items start with the second movement of Jean Françaix’s Petit Quatuor (1935) for saxophones, Cantilène, which is a slow waltz. The longest work on this disc, Bela Koreny’s Cinema 1, is a captivating piece based on the plot of the film Basic Instinct, and was dedicated to The Clarinotts. Luiz Bonfa’s Manhã de Carnaval is a sultry 'bossa nova' that owes its popularity to its appearance in the 1959 Brazilian-themed film Orfeu Negro. Closing the disc is a short but virtuosic work The Chase by Olivier Truan for two clarinets. This provides plenty of opportunities for the Ottensamer brothers to show off their impeccable technique.
On this album, brothers Daniel and Andreas alternate on the first part, while father Ernst takes the lowest part on basset horn or bass clarinet. The clarinets they play are the Viennese type which produce a particularly dark, expansive and warm tone. This has a wider bore than the closely-related German-system instrument; the predominant type outside German-speaking land is the French-system. The tones of the three Ottensamers are well-matched and blend very well. They display impeccable technique and genuine enjoyment in the music-making.
The 28-page booklet contains numerous glossy photos of The Clarinotts. The essay by Warwick Thompson, written in English and translated into German and French, is the fruit of an interview with Andreas Ottensamer, and gives lots of insider information on The Clarinotts as well background about the pieces.
Wai Kit Leung
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809 - 1847)
Konzertstück op.113 for Clarinet, Basset Horn and Orchestra arr. Rainer Schottstädt
1. Allegro con fuoco [2:28]
2. Andante [2:55]
3. Presto [2:23]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791)
Così fan tutte, K.588
4. "Soave si il vento" [2:55]
Albert Franz DOPPLER (1821 - 1883), Karl DOPPLER (1825 - 1900)
5. Fantasy on Themes from Verdi's "Rigoletto" arr. Rainer Schottstädt [10:01]
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792 - 1868)
6. La Danza arr. Erich Schagerl for The Clarinotts [4:36]
Amilcare PONCHIELLI (1834 - 1886)
7. Il Convegno, Op.76 arr. The Clarinotts [9:54]
Jean FRANÇAIX (1912 - 1997)
Petit Quatuor pour Saxophones
8. Cantilène (2nd movement) (arr. Rainer Schottstädt) [2:28]
9. Cinema 1 [10:26]
Luiz BONFA (1922 - 2001)
10. Manhã de Carnaval arr. The Clarinotts [5:40]
11. The Chase [3:04]