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Introduction and Variations on a Swedish Air, Op 12
first performed in 1804; published in a revised version by Peters of Leipzig in 1829; the theme is Olof Ahlström's Good lad, your glass do empty

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Introduction and Variations on a Swedish Air, Op 12
Bernhard (Berndt) Henrik Crusell was born on 15 October 1775 in Uusikaupunki, Finland, moving close to Helsinki at the age of eight. In 1788 he became a volunteer in the military band at the island fortress of Sveaborg, but three years later went to Stockholm in Sweden to study music. From 1793 until 1833 when he retired, Crusell played in the Royal Opera Orchestra in Stockholm. This experience proved valuable for his own composing. In order to improve his technique Crusell visited Berlin in 1801 to study with Franz Tausch and two years later went to Paris, working with Henri-Montan Berton and François Gossec. On returning to Stockholm he premiered many concertos in addition to making Swedish translations of libretti to operas by Mozart, Beethoven and Rossini. He died in 1838 and is buried in Solna.

Crusell’s career as a clarinet virtuoso would seem to have finished in 1820 and even then it was only in Sweden that he enjoyed any reputation. Nevertheless, he must have been a considerable performer as can be witnessed by his compositions for the instrument—three concertos (Opp 1, 5 and 11), three quartets (Opp 2, 4, and 7), three duos (Op 6), a Concertante which includes horn and bassoon (Op 3), and the work in this set, Introduction and Variations on a Swedish air, Op 12.

The work in its initial form, when it was called Variation on the song ‘Good Lad’, was first heard in Stockholm in 1804 played by the composer. Unfortunately this version later became lost except for some orchestral sections. The score in its revised format, published by Peters of Leipzig in 1829, appeared in two versions, one with piano, the other with orchestra. The work was subsequently published by Costallat in Paris. The version employed in this recording uses the French edition (with piano accompaniment, correcting certain misprints) and the Peters orchestral parts of 1829. The original Swedish air is taken from Olof Ahlström’s Good Lad, your glass do empty which was in vogue during the early years of the last century. The work is a splendid virtuoso piece crammed full of technical demands for the soloist. The scoring is for pairs of flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns and trumpets, with strings and timpani.

from notes by Hyperion Records Ltd © 1989

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