Crusell: Clarinet Concerto in B flat, Op. 11; Clarinet Quartets, Op. 2 & 4

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LABELS: Caprice
WORKS: Clarinet Concerto in B flat, Op. 11; Clarinet Quartets, Op. 2 & 4
PERFORMER: Håkan Rosengren (clarinet), Per Enoksson (violin), Öyvor Volle (viola), Leo Winland (cello); Sundsvall CO/John Storgårds
Crusell was an important figure in the development of clarinet repertoire but, despite both the sheer volume of his works for the instrument and their attractively melodic style, he has remained on the margins of public awareness. This fine recording places the first of his three concertos alongside the last two of his three quartets and serves as a reminder that his music deserves a wider audience. Crusell was born in Finland but spent most of his life in Sweden, where he was greatly respected both as a composer and clarinettist. These three works were written during the first 12 years of the 19th century and, though less memorable than those of either Mozart or Weber, are well-constructed and instantly appealing. The performance of the Concerto leans more towards the Romantic than Classical and it is played here with a full, warm orchestral sound rather than the leaner approach which has been the recent trend. Håkan Rosengren gives an exuberant account of the solo part and clearly relishes the virtuoso sections. The two quartets are delightful examples of late Classical chamber music and Rosengren’s mellifluous tone blends beautifully with the strings. However, the booklet notes and translation are absolutely dire. Tim Payne