Mozart: Clarinet Concerto & Kegelstatt Trio

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ALBUM TITLE: Mozart: Clarinet Concerto & Kegelstatt Trio
WORKS: Clarinet Concerto; Kegelstatt Trio; Allegro in B flat major
PERFORMER: Martin Frost (basset clarinet/clarinet), Antoine Tamestit (viola), Janine Jansen, Boris Brovtsyn (vioins); Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen


Martin Fröst’s approach to Mozart’s masterly Concerto is nothing if not stylish. He plays a basset clarinet, with the extra low notes the composer must originally have included, adds some tasteful decoration, and treats the dynamics and articulation of the solo part with the creative freedom expected in the 18th century. His liquid sound, with bubbling arpeggio figuration and hushed pianissimos, is well matched by the chamber-scale contribution of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, neatly turned and well balanced. It’s all as precise and precious as a piece of Dresden china, and, as that suggests, perhaps a bit bloodless. At least that means the pathos in parts of the finale isn’t over-emphasised; but I miss the sheer joy in music-making conveyed by my abiding benchmark choice, the live EMI recording by Sabine Meyer and Claudio Abbado.

For the couplings, Fröst is joined by Antoine Tamestit and Leif Ove Andsnes in an equally well finished performance of the wonderful Kegelstatt Trio (so-called because it’s said to have been composed in the intervals of playing skittles), and by a high-quality string quartet in a late quintet Allegro. This has survived as a fragment of rich promise, running out at the end of a sheet of manuscript, as if the rest might have been lost. In Robert Levin’s convincing completion, it makes a fascinating conclusion to an immaculately played and beautifully recorded disc.


Anthony Burton