Hyperion Records

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

'Spohr: Clarinet Concertos Nos 3 & 4' (CDA67561)
Spohr: Clarinet Concertos Nos 3 & 4
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67561 
Movement 1: Allegro moderato
Movement 2: Adagio
Movement 3: Vivace non troppo

Clarinet Concerto No 3 in F minor, WoO19
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

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA67561 track 1
Allegro moderato
Recording date
3 June 2006
Recording venue
Örebro Konserthuset, Örebro, Sweden
Recording producer
John H West
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Spohr: Clarinet Concertos Nos 3 & 4 (CDA67561)
    Disc 1 Track 1
    Release date: May 2008
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