Double (Stamitz, Telemann, et al)

Paul Meyer, Michel Portal (clarinet); Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia (Alpha Classics)

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ALPHA415 Double

Double
Stamitz: Concerto in B flat for two clarinets; Telemann: Concerto in D minor for two chalumeaux, TWV 52:d1, Sonata in E minor, TWV 40:102; Tchaikovsky (arr. Takemitsu): Herbstlied; Mendelssohn: Concert Pieces Nos 1 & 2 for clarinet and basset horn; CPE Bach: Duet in C, Wq 142 (H 636)
Paul Meyer, Michel Portal (clarinet); Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia
Alpha Classics ALPHA 415   65:16 mins

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This intriguing disc presents two celebrated clarinettists, the seasoned veteran Michel Portal and the versatile Paul Meyer, who also conducts the sprightly Mons-based Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia. They are at their best in the double concerto by Mozart’s talented contemporary Carl Stamitz, exchanging flights of virtuosity and elegant lyrical phrases with a sense of joyful partnership. There’s also a double concerto by Telemann, originally written for two different sizes of chalumeau, the forerunner of the clarinet: playing it on two matching modern clarinets highlights the teamwork of the soloists, but obscures the affinity between the lower solo part and the bass line. Similarly, in Mendelssohn’s two short concert pieces for clarinet and the alto-register basset horn with orchestra, the use of two standard-sized clarinets sparks some gleeful duetting while restricting the overall range of colour.

They also play one of Telemann’s ingenious sonatas for two unaccompanied flutes, transposed from E to F minor and freely adapted, and an inventive duet by CPE Bach originally written for a musical clock. Meyer takes the solo part in Takemitsu’s arrangement for clarinet and strings of the wistful ‘Autumn Song’ from Tchaikovsky’s piano suite The Seasons, an incongruous but delightful addition to the programme. These ‘extras’ add nothing to the theme of double concertos (leaving Franz Krommer’s two lively showpieces for another time, perhaps), but enhance the enjoyment of hearing these two masters of the clarinet at relaxed play.

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Anthony Burton