The Romantic Clarinet in Germany

Pierre-André Taillard, Edoardo Torbianelli
Pan Classics PC10381

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]laying a copy by eminent Swiss maker Rudolph Tutz of a nine-keyed clarinet by Heinrich Grenser, Pierre-André Taillard gives us fine performances of four major chamber works of the Romantic period. It is perhaps ironic that the work by the best-known composer, Mendelssohn, is possibly the least impressive of the four pieces. By contrast, Franz Danzi applies a profound knowledge of woodwind instruments to his tuneful and dramatic Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, while Carl Reissiger’s Duo Brillant  is sparklingly virtuosic, and stretches the nine-keyed clarinet to extremes. The big discovery of this CD though is the op. 15 Duo  by Norbert Burgmüller, a talented composer much admired by Mendelssohn and Schumann whose early death at the age of twenty-six undoubtedly deprived the world of much fine music. The Burgmüller and Reissiger call for some highly virtuosic playing from both clarinettist and pianist, in this case, Edoardo Tobianelli playing a lovely 1824 Conrad Graf piano. The instrument’s clearly defined tone is beautifully captured, and Torbianelli is in many ways the perfect accompanist, responding sympathetically to the expressive clarinet playing, but also rising to considerable heights of virtuosity himself when the part demands it. Taillard finds a warm vocal tone and responsive articulation in his B-flat period clarinet, which he generally manages to maintain throughout the challenging passages in all four works. Clarinettists generally dismiss the Mendelssohn Sonata as juvenilia – a mistake with this famously prodigious composer – and while Burgmüller’s Duo is occasionally performed, it rarely sounds as effective as it does here! This lovely recital disc makes a powerful case for all four of these impressive works to be more frequently featured in concert programmes. This is a lovely CD and not just of interest to clarinettists!

D. James Ross

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