INKPOT#90 CLASSICAL MUSIC REVIEWS: MENDELSSOHN Concert Pieces, op.113/4. CRUSELL Clarinet Duos, op.6. BRAHMS Clarinet Sonata No.2. Rosengren/Lfving/Kilstrm (Nytorp Musik)
Hkan Rosengren clarinet
NYTORP MUSIC CD 9701
by Chia Han-Leon
It seems to me that clarinet music is still a bit of a specialist listening field, though there are hardly any reasons why it should be.
Here are splendid performances of Mendelssohn’s Concert Pieces for the piquant combination of clarinet, basset horn and piano. Lyrical, warm, mischievious and a little bit more, here is sunniness mixed with spritely furiant episodes. Such delicious colours are found in the interplay of both wind players, with some very nice chalumeau from the basset. The cosy Andantes of both pieces are soothing in Mendelosshn’s best traditions – warm and nocturnal; in No.2, a bit of musing takes place before the beautifully Romantic tune over murmuring basset takes over.
Swedish clarinettist Hkan Rosengren elicits beautiful soft sounds from his instrument, with a glowing round upper register which would be heard throughout this album. This is such a uniquely beautiful colour of the clarinet, that no good clarinettist cannot not explioit. Rosengren is a multi-award-winning recitalist who has performed throughout Scandinavia, Europe and America.
There are basically two main ways to play the clarinet – effortlessly fluid, or still learning to! And going by the bubbly presto movements of these pieces, with the musicians all shimmering and skittering away, the affirmation is easily achieved. Witness the leaps and runs in these movements, and watch too the dramatic conclusions of No.2’s outer movements. The final movement is an Allegretto grazioso. Mendelssohn’s take on this is more “Allegretto” than “grazioso” – a kind of half-skipping prancing duet through the countryside, filled with innocent wonderment and cheer.
The release of air (putting it very crudely; we clarinettists have worse names for it) is audible in the clarinettists’ playing – though some may find it distracting, it is – I vouch for it – a fact of life for many clarinettists, a small cost to buy greater control over the instrument. Well, a bit of hot air can do you good!
Right: Clarinettists Hkan Rosengren (left) and Mats Lfving.
There is always a sense of fun in these readings of Crusell’s three Concert Duos, op.6, except perhaps the slightly more subdued No.3. The Mozartian flavour of No.1 comes across easily, while some of its really crazy parts in the final movement are delivered with gusto. In No.2, the pleasing Siciliano is played with grace, followed by the galloping “Swedish Rondo”, characterfully rendered. Mats Lfving, who has been the confident equal partner of his companion, takes the lead in No.3. Lfving, basset hornist, clarinetist and teacher, is the founder of the Nytorp Musik, the CD’s label.
The Brahms Clarinet Sonatas are among the most beautiful in the genre. This performance of No.2 is majestic, with the kind of melodic solidity and unassuming strength characteristic of the composer. The work was inspired in 1894 (three years before his death) by the clarinettist whom Brahms much admired, Richard Mhlfeld.
Anders Kilstrm’s noble pianism matches his partner’s, one impressive example being the solemn regality of the Sostenuto in the second movement. The atmosphere of this sonata is quite different from the rest of the music in this album. Although there are a few rough spots in the clarinet solo in the finale, and the notes on the music are very brief, this remains a most enjoyable disc, well-suited for a quiet evening break or entertainment.
Chia Han-Leon is not a big fan of that left-hand B-flat.