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Copland • Debussy • Lutosławski • Nielsen: Clarinet Concertos

Blaž Šparovec (clarinet); Odense Symphony Orchestra/Anna Skryleva, *Vincenzo Milletarì (Orchid Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Copland • Debussy • Lutosławski • Nielsen
Copland: Clarinet Concerto; Debussy: Première rhapsodie*; Lutosławski: Dance Preludes; Nielsen: Clarinet Concerto
Blaž Šparovec (clarinet); Odense Symphony Orchestra/Anna Skryleva, *Vincenzo Milletarì
Orchid Classics ORC100168   61:22 mins


The clarinet prizewinner of the 2019 Carl Nielsen International Competition, Slovenian Blaž Šparovec, gives here a lustrous performance of Nielsen’s superb Clarinet
Concerto – a work typically both prickly and lyrical – recorded under studio conditions last June. Šparovec’s breath control, colour palette, ease of articulation and warmth of tone are little short of dazzling. These qualities are all displayed in music that largely delights in being mercurial – only at track 11 and the Copland Concerto’s first movement, ravishingly pensive in this account, does any mood linger longer than a minute.

Nielsen’s own Concerto, written with the complex personality of its first soloist Aage Oxenvad in mind, is the most famously volatile, swinging between crazy screams and exhausted calm – a kaleidoscope which is given added force by Anna Skryleva’s incisive conducting and the excellent Odense players’ sharp attack.

Elsewhere, milky beauties reign supreme as the clarinet soloist, high in the air, smoothly navigates the testing, long-legged theme that opens Debussy’s Première rhapsodie (this time recorded live, conducted by Vincenzo Milletarì), while tightly controlled pacing in the Copland ensures maximum excitement once the work’s jazz element kicks in.

And the final icing on Orchid Classics’s cake? The depth and vibrancy of Preben Iwan and Mette Due’s recording, which enhances every musician, from the pirouetting, invigorating Šparovec to the pianist and double bass player who sprinkle pizzicato magic in the Lutosławski.


Geoff Brown