Mercury Classics/Deutsche Grammophon has released the debut album of Austrian clarinettist Andreas Ottensamer, the first ever solo clarinettist to sign an exclusive agreement with the Yellow Label. Portraits – The Clarinet Album features concertos by Copland, Spohr and Cimarosa, plus arrangements of short pieces. Andreas Ottensamer is accompanied on the recording by the Rotterdam Philharmonic under Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
A glance at the Wikipedia entry for the 24-year-old clarinetist Andreas Ottensamer makes you rub your eyes. He has attained a remarkable curriculum vitae, beginning with his appointment as principal clarinetist of the Berlin Phil. and his acceptance at Harvard. His father and older brother are both principal clarinetists with the Vienna Phil. (the family is from upper Austria). Why should such a fantastic tale stop there? Andreas has also won competition first prizes on cello and piano, and he is the first clarinetist to be signed as an exclusive DG artist. One wonders if he glows in the dark.
The instrumental concerto occupies a very prominent place in the music of Krzysztof Penderecki. This fact is related to the great life force exhibited by this genre in twentieth century and in contemporary music. It is stimulated by commissions from virtuosos and by audience expectations; also favourable is the composers’ flexibility in approaching the form, whose chief idea continues to be the juxtaposition of the solo instrument and the orchestra. The violin and viola works presented on this CD are not only interesting, concrete realizations of the concertare idea in Penderecki’s music, but also examples of this composer’s sonic language and style in the period of his creativity which Mieczyslaw Tomaszewski called a "time of dialogue with the regained past".
No timbral difference separates this midprice reissue of one of the best-loved concertos by Mozart from its previous, full-priced equivalent. There's a bit more ambience and warmth and less stridency on top. If you own the original CD, there's no need to replace it, but first-time buyers should snap up these sensitive, stylish performances in their Great Recordings of the Century guise. One of the main attractions is the extended compass and deliciously "woody" tone of Sabine Meyer's basset clarinet. The clarinetist's fleet, effortless dispatch of the Clarinet Concerto's outer movements is a delight to the ear, and her improvised (or so they seem!) flourishes fit into their environment as if Mozart had written them himself.
This is the premiere recording release of The Atlanta Symphony under the baton of their new Music Director, Yoel Levi, who was formerly Assistant Conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra.
The three Copland classics on this disc–Billy the Kid, Appalachian Spring and Rodeo–are all ballet scores, and from the very first bars of Billy, with its evocative depiction of the wide-open prairies, you are firmly in the territory of music that tells a story. But you don't need to follow all the ins and outs of each story to enjoy music which paints as vivid a picture of rural America as you could hope for. If the sprightly "Hoe Down" from Rodeo brings a splash of colour to concert programmes, the remarkable thing about so much of the music in these three pieces is how quietly sensitive it is. And while Michael Tilson Thomas does not hold back in wringing every last ounce of splashy razzmatazz, he is equally the master of introspective music which clearly demonstrates that you don't need to be loud to be a populist. The recordings were made in the San Francisco Symphony's home, Davies Symphony Hall. You couldn't hope for more authentic performances than this–more than 76 minutes of dyed-in-the-wool Americana.