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CD Reviews MOZART: CLARINET CONCERTO; KEGELSTATT TRIO Martin Fröst BIS 1893

✶✶✶✶✶ A familiar face on the Australian concert scene, Martin Fröst is one of the world’s few wind players with an international career, who performs with all the major orchestras, as well as in chamber music and solo recitals. On this disc is music Mozart specifically wrote for one of the great clarinetists of the time, Anton Stadler, whose playing was said to perfectly imitate the human voice. Fröst easily emulates this characteristic. Directing The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Fröst shows not only exquisite skill in executing the ethereal solo lines of the ROLANDO VILLAZÓN MOZART London Symphony Orchestra/Pappano Deutsche Grammophon 479 2463

✶✶✶✶✶ Are a nine-year-old composer’s attempts at concert arias worth recording? The answer is yes, when an artist as extraordinary as Rolando Villazón is the performer. In fact those two pieces are perhaps the weakest on this extraordinarily entertaining disc of twelve Mozart rarities, most written for insertion into other composers’ scores. Quite apart from Villazón’s remarkable vocal performance, his interpretation of the lyrics is amazingly insighted and varied, from the real desperation of Misero! O sogno o son desto? to a deliciously funny double act with the conductor, Antonio

DIMENSIONS WORKS FOR STRING ORCHESTRA Various Performers/Composers Navona Records NV5895

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Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A (K 622), but also in his leadership of this fine ensemble. His lyricism and phrasing is just extraordinary, with a tonal quality that is heavenly. On this recording, Fröst plays a modern reconstruction of a basset clarinet. In the first performance of the “Kegelstatt” Piano Trio No 2 in E flat (K 498), Stadler played clarinet, Mozart played viola and one of Mozart’s pupils played the piano. His trio perfectly captures the intimacy of the Viennese salon of the day. Whilst not a particularly virtuosic piece, this trio does some have some moments of technical challenge. With Antoine Tamestit (viola) and Leif Ove Andsnes (piano), and Martin Fröst (clarinet), the trio’s communication sees wondrous interplay of lines. The Allegro for Clarinet and String

Quartet in B flat (K 516c) completes the disc. As a stand-alone piece (completed by Robert Levin from a fragment), this work makes for a beautiful addition to the chamber repertory. - Barry Walmsley

Pappano - virtually a patter song – which will have brightened up Piccini’s L’astratto no end. An aria written for Pasquale Anfossi’s opera Il curioso indiscreto is a real find - and Villazón sings it with an aristocratic splendour of tone, while the London Symphony Orchestra under Pappano provides the kind of warm, caressing support for which one longs in the most delicious pages of the composer’s scores. This combination of singer and conductor is a real lesson in how this kind of disc should be presented, and I can think of no lover of Mozart, of opera, just of supreme vocal accomplishment, who would not want to possess it. A bonus disc contains generous extracts from Villazón’s complete recordings of Cosi fan Tutte and Don Guiovanni, with such colleagues as

Miah Persson and Angela Brower, Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato. - Derek Parker

Throughout time, humankind has sought to provide explanation and justification for the pains, joys and passions for life. Dimensions provides a series of works from seven composers for string orchestra which cascades the listener through a waterfall of emotional alternatives throughout its 52 minute duration. Deploration by Gregory Hutter, explores the grief felt as the result of the passing of a friend and mentor. It is a clearly defined work: Prelude, Fugue and Chorale and pays homage to Bach’s harmonic invention together with his own chromatic treatment of the various melodic lines. This idea of reflection is prominent throughout this CD. The French composer Louis Babin speaks of “taking a turn towards the embattled heart”

in Couleurs which deals with his confusion as a teenager and the lack of clarity in his own personal existence. Debussy’s The Girl with the Flaxen Hair is the most aesthetically pleasing work on this disc with its transcription being for clarinet and string orchestra. Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman’s description of the lushness of the string accompaniment is well justified and it brings a warmth and richness to this most attractive of Debussy’s melodies. This disc comes with a variety of interactive tools including online scores, composer biographies and even some ringtones! High school music teachers could certainly make use this material in their classrooms. - Frank Shostakovich June 2014

fineMusic 102.5

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Fine Music Magazine June 2014  
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