J & C Stamitz, Pokorny & Anon

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COMPOSERS: J & C Stamitz,Pokorny & Anon
LABELS: Clarinet Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Clarinet in Bohemia
WORKS: Clarinet concertos & quartets
PERFORMER: Jean-Jacques Justaffré (horn), Thibaud Vieux (violin), Noëlle Santos (viola), Philippe Ferret (cello); Talich CO/Petr Vronsky, Les Virtuoses de L’Opéra/Philippe Cuper (clarinet)
CATALOGUE NO: CC 0030
Johann Stamitz is chiefly remembered as one of the founders of the Mannheim School, which made dramatic advances in orchestral playing styles, and though only 40 when he died he wrote over 70 symphonies and 30 concertos. Few of these works are performed these days, but his place in the history of the clarinet is important since he bridges the gap between the earliest works of Baroque composers such as Vivaldi and the ground-breaking compositions of Mozart. The best-known piece here is the Concerto in B flat, which is given a relaxed, understated reading by both soloist and orchestra, who play the music with obvious affection but with no need to oversell it. Of the four quartets, two are certainly by Carl Stamitz, elder son of Johann, while the remaining two could have been written by either. These latter two pieces differ quite radically from the first two, which are dominated by the clarinet, and though slightly less musically sophisticated make far more interesting use of all four instruments. They are scored for the unusual combination of clarinet, horn, violin and cello and, contrary to expectation, include some spectacularly virtuosic horn writing. The music itself, while not especially memorable or significant, is nonetheless full of charm and makes for enjoyable listening. Tim Payne

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