ALBUM TITLE: Spohr
WORKS: Clarinet Concerto No. 1; Clarinet Concerto No. 2; Potpourri in F Op, 80; Variations in B flat
PERFORMER: Michael Collins, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Robin O’Neill
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67509
Louis Spohr is the epitome of the composer acclaimed in his own time as among the great masters and subsequently forgotten. But the first two of his four concertos for the clarinettist Johann Simon Hermstedt, written between 1808 and 1810, are well worth hearing: they’re imaginatively constructed and full of graceful melody, as well as being true virtuoso showpieces.
Michael Collins effortlessly surmounts all their technical difficulties, and those of two shorter virtuoso pieces from the same period, with incisive attack, wonderfully liquid arpeggios and complete control even up to (sounding) top B flats; but he also makes the most of the many opportunities Spohr offers for eloquent lyricism. He’s well partnered by Robin O’Neill (also a woodwind player, though the booklet oddly neglects to say so) and by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, with excellent if sometimes reticently balanced wind soloists. Warmly recommended – and there’s enough left for a sequel. Anthony Burton