Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A

LABELS: PentaTone
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart Clarinet Music
WORKS: Clarinet Concerto in A
PERFORMER: Andrew MarrinerAcademy of Saint Martin in the Fields Chamber EnsembleSir Neville Marriner
CATALOGUE NO: 5186 048
The Concerto recording was a double


birthday celebration for conductor

father and soloist son, respectively

80 and 50 in 2004, and it finds both

in fine form. Orchestral lines are

purposefully shaped, while the solo

clarinet-playing is some of the mostbeautiful on record, mellifluous across

all the registers. Especially notable

is Andrew Marriner’s pianissimo

playing, perhaps applied too often, but

exquisite at the right moments, such as

the hushed return of the main theme

in the slow movement. The airy Henry

Wood Hall sound helps, too. But

Marriner uses a standard A clarinet

in more or less the standard text, and

once you’ve heard the extended basset

clarinet straighten out the kinks in

Mozart’s arpeggio writing it’s hard to

accept the compromises of the familiar

version. There’s also a shortage of

sometimes necessary decoration.

The Quintet is equally lovely,

though once or twice Marriner nearly

trips up in the more demanding

passagework, and some exaggerated

gaps occasionally break the flow.

The sound takes some getting used

to: initially it seems remote, as if the

five players have settled themselves

within an unchanged orchestral setup;

and Kenneth Sillito’s first violin

chair is too much of a back seat almost

throughout. But even with these

reservations, if you want this coupling

in the best modern sound, including

SACD, this recording is generally

preferable to those of Martin Fršst

(BIS, reviewed November 2003)

and Walter Boeykens (Etcetera,

reviewed March 2004). My overall

recommendation in the Concerto,

though, remains Sabine Meyer’s live

Berlin recording, using basset clarinet


to full advantage. Anthony Burton