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Hyperion Records

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Sunday Stroll by Carl Spitzweg (1808-1885)
Museum Carolino Augusteum, Salzburg / Interfoto / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67561
Recording details: June 2006
Örebro Konserthuset, Örebro, Sweden
Produced by John H West
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: May 2008
Total duration: 27 minutes 17 seconds

'This oustanding disc is the counterpart of Michael Collins's coupling of Spohr's first two Clarinet Concertos with the same forces. It is thanks to Collins's artistry that relatively prosaic ideas are transformed, with magical echo effects, subtle pointing of rhythm to make the music sparkle in shaping of phrases that is magnetic … an exceptionally attractive disc' (Gramophone)

'Michael Collins … repeats the success of his disc of Nos 1 and 2 with elegantly phrased melodies, immaculate passagework and wondurously even trills. The Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Robin O'Neill again provide alert support, and the recording is outstanding, with a pleasant sense of intimacy embracing wind, strings and soloist' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Michael Collins brings off the more spectacular passages with stylish relish. He's even better in the long, lyrical lines of the slow movement—a lovely Adagio that has real expressive intensity here, thanks to the quiet eloquence and subtle shading of Collins and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra in this performance' (International Record Review)

'Collins completes his recordings of these delightful concertos with the contrasting works presented here … Collins dazzles like a bel canto diva in the pyrotechnic leaps, trills and runs, while he lavishes his rich tone, phenomenal breath control and deeply satisfying expressive insights on the E minor' (The Sunday Times)

Clarinet Concerto No 3 in F minor, WoO19
composer
commissioned in May 1821 by Johann Simon Hermstedt and first performed by him in Alexisbad on 27 July

Allegro moderato  [10'23]
Adagio  [9'18]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The third concerto is the most overtly virtuosic of the four Spohr's clarinet Concertos with a fiery, restless energy supporting grand, sweeping themes of real distinction. The music best matches what we know of Hermstedt’s musical personality: a staggering technique and a fearless disregard of even the most severe difficulties. Some contemporaries hinted that his playing lacked finesse but all acknowledged the sheer excitement generated by his performances.

The first movement, Allegro moderato, follows conventional concerto form though Spohr builds his second subject around a trilling motif extracted from the passionate F minor opening tutti. The solo clarinet announces its presence with a long held note in a crescendo from piano to forte. After a few bars of passagework there is a brief intervention by the orchestra, before the clarinet has the held note again but this time entering forte with a diminuendo to piano. It is strange that in this work, as well as in its successor, Spohr adhered to the standard first movement concerto form, for in his violin concertos dating from this period he had moved away from such traditional treatment. Perhaps he was influenced by Hermstedt who may have wanted to ‘make ’em wait’ for his solo entry.

The concerto’s beautiful Adagio in D flat major has echoes of the slow movements of Mozart’s concerto and quintet for clarinet without ever actually quoting them; perhaps a little in-joke for Hermstedt who loved these two works of Mozart’s above all others.

The material of the Vivace non troppo F major finale has a distinct Alpine touch to it; an idiom which Spohr came to know during stays in Vienna and Switzerland. His fascination led him to turn to this mode in three finales—the Notturno, Op 34 (1815) written for Hermstedt, the C major string quartet, Op 45 No 1 (1818), and this concerto. A waltz-like accompaniment introduces a contrasting section while Hermstedt was given plenty of opportunity to display his ability in tonguing staccato passagework.

from notes by Keith Warsop © 2008

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