Classic Clarinet

review clarinet x1 cong

This CD is part of a series of CDs aimed at people who want to know more about an instrument, either as players or listeners.

For those who are new to an instrument, the first question is often where to start. This new series offers an easy answer to that question, as well as an introduction to the wonderful and varied world of “classical” music.

The clarinet has its roots in the early single-reed instruments or hornpipes used in Ancient Greece, old Egypt, the Middle East, and Europe since the Middle Ages, such as the albogue, alboka, and double clarinet. The modern clarinet developed from a Baroque instrument called the chalumeau. This instrument was similar to a recorder; around the turn of the 18th century, the chalumeau was modified by converting one of its keys into a register key to produce the first clarinet.

This CD features some big names and the less known; obviously it needs clarinet pieces but it also wants to introduce new classical listeners to some of the range of music on offer (and the Naxos back catalogue).

All the music is accessible and — as it features the clarinet — is warm and approachable, if not playful. The opener is an orchestral piece from Bernard Crusell, who is big in Finland: “the outstanding Finnish composer before Sibelius” says Wikipedia, and thus much less famous. He was a clarinet soloist before turning to the composing game.

Louis Spohr is next, “highly regarded during his lifetime” says Wikipedia, ie all but forgotten today. He wrote this piece for a clarinettist knowing nothing about the instrument, forcing the performer to add extra keys to the instrument.

You can’t avoid the big hitters and Mozart is next and it is a step change from less known people to him; his opening section is gorgeous.

Incidentally, most pieces are in a different key, presumably to give new listeners experience of what each sounds like, and take in different styles of music. Rossini, Beethoven and Mendelssohn also feature.

This is out on Naxos 8578174. Other instruments in the series include oboe and flute.

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