Pleasing period performances
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 09/15/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm generally not much for chamber music and don't go in for recordings like this one. I happened across this CD during a time when I was listening to a lot of period keyboard music and picked it up for a very modest price. It has returned my investment fourfold already.
The players -- period clarinetist Charles Neidich, the leader of period band Mozzafiato, and Robert Levin, who is well known as a period keyboard artist, scholar and conductor -- combine to perform three sonatas from the middle period of romanticism: Danzi's Sonata for clarinet and Pianoforte in B flat major; Mendelssohn's Sonata for clarinet & piano in E flat major; and Weber's Grand Duo Concertante for clarinet & piano in B flat major, Op. 48. All three pieces are written in conservative sonata format and each is comprised in three fast-slow-fast movements.
I cannot attest to having expertise in this music. In fact, this is only the third Danzi recording I've owned. I've heard more chamber music from both Mendelssohn and Weber and have had one or two other performances of the Weber, usually linked to recordings of his clarinet concertos. These are the first period performances I've heard of the music.
Without going into detail on their playing or comparing them to other recordings, my overall impression is this is very interesting and relaxing music. Each time I listen to these performances I hear a little more of the score. Each time I listen, I am also more relaxed than the time before. Each time I listen, the music and performers impress me a little more than before. This is pleasantly surprising since I expected to be bored by this production.
I think it is the timbre of the instruments that leads to the relaxation quotient and the interpretation of the players that makes it interesting. Both players are PPP bigwigs and they recorded this during the height of PPP recordings in 1993.
Levin's fortepiano never bursts forth into the magnificent and dynamic fortissimo you hear from a modern grand...even though the Mendelssohn, in particular, continually requests this from the player. I think that sound would probably have changed my outlook about this CD and its overall presence in my mind.
So here's a thumbs up for a little CD of romantic music that isn't terribly consequential but gives me a good feeling and endures intellectually. If you are a period clarinetist of fortepainist, I'd suggest you investigate this as soon as possible. If you think you might like this music, you probably will. The recording is clear, agile and deep with a good sound stage."