Carl Maria von Weber: The Clarinet Concertos
Beautiful, lush romantic strings set this recording off. Then the clarinet enters, with a wailing sound – not at all what I was expecting. There is an edge to the clarinet tone, with a brightness that cuts straight over the orchestra. It was so unlike any recording I had previously heard of the Weber Clarinet Concertos that I reached for the cover, and Google, to learn more. A quick look and realisation dawned: this is a recording of the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, who all perform on period instruments. This is not the clarinet as we know it, instead it is the exact (yes, exact!) clarinet this piece was written for. And what power it has! You can hear the extreme virtuosity of Eric Hoeprich as he grapples with this unwieldy instrument and, for the first time, I get this concerto. I can finally hear what Carl Maria von Weber’s musical intentions were in writing this concerto.
After last month’s review of Vivaldi on the clarinet, I have to say this was a fascinating continuation that delves into the history of one of the most popular woodwind instruments. If you purchased the Vivaldi, this is a must-listen to compare and enjoy these historically-inspired performances.