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COMPOSERS: Mozart/Busoni/Copland
WORKS: Clarinet Concerto in A; Concertino; Clarinet Concerto
PERFORMER: Paul Meyer (clarinet) ECO/David Zinman
Mozart wrote his Clarinet Concerto for a basset clarinet, ie, an instrument with an extended bass range. But when the work was published it was arranged for an A clarinet of normal range. This necessitated some rather awkward passages, when the notes for the lowest register of the basset clarinet had to be transposed upwards. In recent years there have been some successful reconstructions of the lost basset clarinet version, which were possible because in a contemporary German review of the first edition, the differences were explained, even with music examples. (There are good recordings of such reconstructions, eg, Hoeprich/Briiggen on Philips, Lawson/Goodman on Nimbus or Pay/Hogwood on Decca, all with period instruments.)


The Denon disc presents the conventional version, without the lower notes (which the modern instrument couldn’t manage anyway), and very beautifully played it is too by a young French soloist of impeccable taste and flawless technique. The other two pieces are lightweight but very pretty, and for those who are not afraid of modern music, the Copland will be a pleasant surprise: not at all offputting — on the contrary, rather winning. The orchestra plays superbly. A highly recommended record. HC Robbins Landon