ALBUM TITLE: Krommer , Spohr
WORKS: Krommer-Concerto for two clarinets, Op. 91Spohr-Clarinet Concertos Nos 2 & 4
PERFORMER: Sabine Meyer, Julian Bliss (clarinet); Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Kenneth Sillito
CATALOGUE NO: 379 7862
This is an intriguing pairing of two violinist-composers, the Moravian Franz Krommer (originally Frantiek Kramá?), three years younger than Mozart, and the German Louis Spohr, born a quarter of a century later: both essentially classical in orientation, but open to the growing influence of Romanticism; both capable of writing substantial and effective concertos, with dramatic slow movements and exuberant polonaise finales. Equally intriguing is EMI’s deployment of these two clarinet stars, one firmly established at the top of her profession, the other a prodigiously gifted teenager. Together they swoop and glide and bubble delightfully through Krommer’s double concerto; Sabine Meyer makes light of the considerable difficulties of Spohr’s Fourth Concerto with soft-grained and wonderfully even tone; Julian Bliss is technically impressive and only slightly less characterful in the Second. The Academy of St Martin’s provides predictably excellent support, though it sounds somewhat overbearing in a big acoustic, with woodwind solos artificially spotlit.
This performance of the Krommer outclasses its only current rival, on an all-Krommer disc by Hungarian performers on Naxos. Naxos also has a pairing of the Spohr Second and Fourth Concertos, with a fine soloist in Ernst Otttensamer but some untidy orchestral playing in a boomy acoustic. In Spohr’s Second Concerto, Michael Collins shows fractionally more finesse than Bliss, and the balance within the Swedish Chamber Orchestra sounds more natural. There’s a Fourth to come from Collins, too, but for the moment Meyer is the undisputed leader there. And, comparisons aside, this is overall a very appealing package. Anthony Burton