Movement 1: Allegro moderato
Movement 2: Adagio
Movement 3: Vivace non troppo
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