Hyperion Records

Clarinet Concerto No 2 in F major
circa 1775

'English Classical Clarinet Concertos' (CDH55261)
English Classical Clarinet Concertos
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55261  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: The birks of Endermay: Andante
Movement 3: The wanton God: Rondo

Clarinet Concerto No 2 in F major
Mahon’s clarinet concerto may come as something of a surprise to those who think that eighteenth-century English composers confined themselves to Corellian concerti grossi or Handelian organ concertos. Not many English solo concertos survive, presumably because they were too difficult for amateurs and were rarely published, but those that do show that by the 1770s native Englishmen had acquired a surprisingly fluent grasp of the galant idiom.

The first movement of Mahon’s concerto is an assured and extended example of Classical concerto form, with a profusion of elegant, tuneful ideas in the manner of J C Bach. The Andante is more characteristically English, or ‘British’, since it is a beautifully conceived setting of the Scots tune ‘The birks of Endermay’. There was a fashion among English composers of the period for slow movements in the Scottish style: examples can also be found in the violin concertos by Linley, Shaw and Brooks.

Mahon’s clarinet-writing is often brilliant, but it sounds somewhat limited to our ears since it avoids the lower chalumeau register exploited so memorably by Mozart and later clarinet composers. In part this is because English clarinets were less advanced than those used on the Continent, but it is also because the solo part was conceived, presumably with amateurs in mind, so that it could also be played on ‘Hoboy, German Flute or Violin’ as well as clarinet. It is interesting that Mahon does use the chalumeau register in the cadenza of the first movement, which comes from his later treatise A New and Compleat Preceptor for the Clarinet (c1803). The concerto only survives with string parts, but when it was published it was described as ‘in all its parts’, which sounds as if there should be orchestral wind instruments as well, so the opportunity has been taken here to add parts for two horns.

from notes by Peter Holman © 1997

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for CDA66896 track 1
Recording date
18 May 1996
Recording venue
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. English Classical Clarinet Concertos (CDA66896)
    Disc 1 Track 1
    Release date: January 1997
    Deletion date: August 2004
    Superseded by CDH55261
  2. English Classical Clarinet Concertos (CDH55261)
    Disc 1 Track 1
    Release date: November 2006
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
   English   Français   Deutsch