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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: 25 minutes 12 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 4 in E minor, WoO20
sketched 1828, orchestrated January 1829; for clarinet in A; first performed by Johann Simon Hermstedt on 12 June 1829 at the Nordhausen Music Festival

Allegro vivace  [10'43]
Larghetto  [7'07]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
At the close of 1821 Spohr’s career reached a major turning point with his appointment as Kapellmeister at the court of Kassel and he remained there for the rest of his life. It was in Kassel that he composed the Clarinet Concerto No 4 in E minor WoO20, sketched in August 1828 and orchestrated in January 1829. It ranks among Spohr’s finest compositions and received its premiere in Hermstedt’s hands on 12 June 1829 during the Nordhausen Musical Festival where the composer demonstrated his continuing love for Mozart by taking the viola part in a performance of the latter’s Clarinet Trio, K498.

The fourth concerto, the only one Spohr composed for the A clarinet, opens with a sombre Romantic-sounding theme (Allegro vivace) which is contrasted with a more serene second subject, but this relaxed atmosphere is interrupted by powerful though brief orchestral outbursts. The Larghetto is reflective and melancholy, with operatic touches coming from declamatory passages and dramatic arpeggios.

The finale, a Rondo al espagnol, appears on the surface to be a joyous, good-humoured movement but there is an underlying feeling of sadness emphasized by the E minor tonality that dominates proceedings. The opening theme of the work is echoed in the arpeggio figuration at the close. Spohr had earlier used a Spanish finale in his sixth violin concerto, composed in the winter of 1808–9 after hearing a Spanish soldier quartered on him in Gotha play his native melodies on a guitar, and he turned to this Spanish inspiration for a number of further works including a string quartet and an opera as well as this clarinet concerto.

from notes by Keith Warsop © 2008

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