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Weber: Clarinet Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 & Concertino



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3rd Jan 2012




67 minutes


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Weber: Clarinet Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 & Concertino


Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 73

Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E flat Major, Op. 74

Clarinet Concertino in E flat major, Op. 26

Horn Concertino in E minor, Op. 45

Stephen Stirling (horn)


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On this disc, the exclusive Chandos artist, Michael Collins, plays the clarinet in three works for clarinet and orchestra by Weber, as well as conducting the City of London Sinfonia. The disc also includes Weber’s horn concertino, featuring the soloist Stephen Stirling.

The two concertos and the concertino for clarinet and orchestra are considered among the repertoire cornerstones for today’s clarinettists. Weber wrote the works for his personal friend Heinrich Bärmann, the principal clarinettist of the Munich court orchestra, whose own embellishments of the works (changes of articulation, extra grace notes, and even an added accompanied cadenza in the first concerto) have been incorporated in the performances recorded here. Michael Collins suggests that these changes ‘do not make the music any easier to play, but they do make it more thrilling’.

Each of the works displays a well-balanced mix of virtuosity, daring, humour, and sheer beauty, and throughout, the role of the orchestra is much more than a mere accompaniment. The woodwind solos, a trio of horns, blaring trumpets, and dashing violins contribute greatly to making these works so captivating.

Written in 1806, when Weber was just nineteen years old, the virtuosic Horn Concertino pushed known horn techniques to new limits, requiring the soloist among other feats to produce a ‘four-note chord’, the technique known as multiphonics. The work is today considered a gem in the horn repertoire, and our soloist, Stephen Stirling, is ‘a player gifted with the utmost sensitivity and imagination, which is shown through the beautiful way he shapes musical phrases and the extraordinary range of colours he employs’ – in the words of the late Richard Hickox.

Carl Maria von Weber: Clarinet Concertino in C minor / E flat major, Op. 26, J. 109

I. Adagio ma non troppo

II. Andante

III. Allegro

Carl Maria von Weber: Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 73, J. 114

I. Allegro

II. Adagio ma non troppo

III. Rondo: Allegretto

Carl Maria von Weber: Horn Concertino in E minor, Op. 45, J. 188

Adagio - Andante

Andante con moto - Con fuoco

Cadenza - Adagio

Alla Polacca

Carl Maria von Weber: Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 74, J. 155

I. Allegro

II. Romanza: Andante - Recitativo - Tempo I

III. Alla polacca

BBC Music Magazine

March 2012


“Collins, acting as both soloist and conductor, offers dazzling performances that make use of the elaborations Baermann made to the clarinet part. He is equally at home in the intimate lyricism of Weber's slow movement as he is in the brilliance of the writing elsewhere...[Stirling] rises to the challenge of the extreme technical demands [of the Concertino]”

Gramophone Magazine

February 2012

“straightforward and sunny - bright and playful performances of the clarinet works (Michael Collins conducts himself) and Stephen Stirling evidently enjoying himself in the Horn Concertino and its tricky cadenza.”

International Record Review

February 2012

“At first listening this might not seem to be the most sheerly virtuosic playing on the market, partly because Collins does not restrict himself to what he can do smoothly, his dynamic range or his staccato speed just past their safe limit when his sense of the music's drama requires it...It is hardly self-evident that a new release of these famiiar works will find something new to say”

The Guardian

25th January 2012


“Collins directs the orchestra as well as dispatching the solo parts with wit and aplomb, and he also takes charge of the accompaniment to Stephen Stirling's performance of Weber's Concertino for horn, a piece that inevitably sounds rather staid alongside the glittering clarinet works.”

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