Mendelssohn, Baermann

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Baermann,Mendelssohn
LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Gold
WORKS: Konzertstücke, Opp. 113 & 114; Clarinet Sonata in E flat
PERFORMER: Consortium Classicum
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 301 0974-2
Mendelssohn’s contribution to the repertoire of the clarinet, not among the most historically significant, comprised the youthful Sonata and two light-hearted Concert Pieces which are deliberately frivolous showpieces. Judged on its own merits, the Sonata is decidedly banal, but when viewed as the work of a 14-year-old, it appears as a most impressive achievement, particularly interesting as an early example of a developing talent. The difference in quality between the work of a great composer and that of a competent professional is highlighted here by comparison of Mendelssohn’s teenage offering with Carl Baermann’s Duo concertant, a vehicle for virtuoso display from the two clarinets which rather outstays its welcome. The most enjoyable music in this set comes from Mendelssohn’s two Konzertstücke for clarinet, basset-horn and piano, written for Carl Baermann and his father Heinrich. They were conceived as light, overtly humorous entertainment pieces and specifically designed to showcase the legendary techniques of these two players. Consortium Classicum has adopted the authentic practice of introducing its own cadenzas and decorations which are generally very effective, though its tendency towards extreme rubato is more questionable. Overall, the performances are very spirited, with especially well-matched sounds from the wind players. Tim Payne

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