ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Homage to Benny Goodman
WORKS: Clarinet Concerto; Clarinet Concerto No. 2; Ebony Concerto; Prelude, Fugue and Riffs
PERFORMER: Sabine Meyer, Wolfgang Meyer (clarinet); Bamberg SO/Ingo Metzmacher
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 56652 2
Benny Goodman, ‘the King of Swing’, was also no mean classical clarinettist, and responsible for several important additions to the repertoire. Two of his commissions appear on both these tributes from European performers. Sabine Meyer and Martin Fröst negotiate the virtuoso difficulties of the Copland Concerto with equal fluency; Meyer is a little impatient in the opening slow waltz; Fröst is convincingly
laid-back, but self-effacing. Wolfgang Meyer and Fröst are more evenly matched in the Arnold Second Concerto, with its riotous ragtime finale; neither quite succeeds with the supposedly improvised first-movement cadenza. The BIS engineers achieve better integration between soloist and orchestra.
The choice between the two discs depends primarily on the couplings. Fröst plays the Hindemith Concerto with mellifluous tone, but again sometimes over-reticent dynamics and phrasing. The Meyers continue to share the spoils in Stravinsky’s tight Ebony Concerto and Bernstein’s raunchy Prelude, Fugue and Riffs, neither written for Goodman but both recorded by him, and in a sequence of numbers made famous by the Goodman band. These re-creations feel slightly antiseptic; but, when they finally join forces, sister and brother duet effectively on Goodman’s own composition Rachel’s Dream. Anthony Burton