Krommer, Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A, K622. Clarinet Concerto in E flat, Op. 36

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COMPOSERS: Krommer,Mozart
LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Clarinet Concerto in A, K622. Clarinet Concerto in E flat, Op. 36
PERFORMER: Sharon Kam (clarinet); Württemberg CO Heilbronn/Jörg Faerber
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-21462-2
One of the problems in considering performances of Mozart’s sublime Clarinet Concerto is the wide range of stylistic approaches adopted. This is further complicated by the fact that, increasingly, players are electing to use the basset clarinet, as originally intended by Mozart. This has an extended range and the change in acoustic qualities produces a darker, more melancholy flavour. Sharon Kam uses a standard instrument, thereby inviting comparison with many of this century’s greatest soloists, and faces an enormous challenge in the attempt to offer a new perspective. Her tempi are on the slow side and, while this enhances the lyrical aspect of the first two movements, the Rondo seems ponderous and never quite comes to life. Overall the playing is very fine, but the interpretation seems mannered, especially when compared to that of Jack Brymer who immediately sounds natural and spontaneous. For me, too much consideration and emphasis on detail tends to result in a performance which misses the enigmatic and mercurial nature of the music, which is so deeply imbued with the emotional complexities of the composer. Her rendition of Krommer’s Concerto in E flat is excellent and reveals it to be a work well worth hearing. While well known to clarinettists, it is rarely performed and may surprise unfamiliar listeners with its early anticipation of later 19th-century developments. Tim Payne