Clarinet Concerto in A, K622
Trio in E flat for Clarinet, Viola and Piano, K498 (Kegelstatt)
Allegro in B flat for Clarinet and String Quartet, K516c [completed by Robert Levin]
Martin Fröst (basset clarinet & clarinet; director in K622)
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Antoine Tamestit (viola) & Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)
Janine Jansen & Boris Brovtsyn (violins), Maxim Rysanov (viola) & Torleif Thedéen (cello)]
K622 recorded July 2010 in Kammer-Philharmonie, Bremen, Germany; K498 on July 2012 at Jar kirke, Jar, Norway; and K516c on February 2013 at Grünewaldsalen, Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: January 2014
CD No: BIS-1893 [CD/SACD]
Duration: 54 minutes
In a release bounded by Mozart, Martin Fröst and his clarinets, once passed the Concerto the music is no more than pleasing, if admirably performed. Given the diversity of the artists and the different recording venues, 54 minutes of playing time seems rather parsimonious. A transcription for clarinet of something by Wolfgang Amadeus, or a piece by another composer would have been welcome.
Nevertheless it must always be quality before quantity and this effervescent, nimble and quicksilver account of the Clarinet Concerto as very enjoyable. But not rushed. Martin Fröst, also directing the poised and elegant Bremen musicians, achieves a lyrical composure and freshness that is often captivating, although the bright and edgy sound does threaten to undermine the whole. For BIS, this is an unusually ‘loud’ transfer. Leaving that aside, Fröst gives a sparkling and thoughtful account of the solo part, nicely variegated in dynamics and timbre, and exploiting the darker tones of a basset clarinet. In the ‘Out of Africa’ slow movement Fröst and his colleagues’ tenderness is beguiling and touching, and if the finale (for me at least) is simply too fast, its shapely composure is itself a joy.
The rarely essayed Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano that is nicknamed the ‘Kegelstatt’ (which is a ‘bowling alley’ to us) – and for which one now needs to turn the amplifier’s volume up for agreeable and focussed results – is pleasurable and tuneful, the first movement being music for a balmy Summer evening, and is followed by a robust Minuet and an insouciant finale. This is a lovely rendition of it, friends making music and good conversation. As for the clarinet quintet fragment, 93 bars long as left by Mozart, this has now been completed by Robert Levin with consummate craft to form a perfectly pleasant movement. Once again, the performance has many charms and meaningful interaction.