What Carl Nielsen demanded of the clarinet must have seemed simply impossible to those who witnessed the work’s premiere. The composer fully exploits the instrument’s extreme registers, the dynamic spectrum ranges from the tenderest pianissimo to mighty fortissimo, and even the fingers get a full dexterity workout. Again and again the solo instrument has to endeavor to match the orchestra’s forceful performance stance. A special feature: in the otherwise rather clear instrumentation a snare drum repeatedly comes forward in a solo role, sometimes with a pounding rhythm, other times in chamber style in a duet with the clarinet.
Claude Debussy relies more on tonal beauty, and in fact the Première Rhapsodie develops an enchanting atmosphere in which the solo instrument now and again is fully integrated into the orchestral sound. Jean Françaix’s Concerto features truly mind-blowing virtuosity, both for the soloist and the orchestra. As always in Françaix, this work promises the best of entertainment – generated by the “peppermint harmonies” that might have come from this or that hit tune. When this wonderfully nimbly instrumented piece was composed, there were considerable doubts about its playability, but today it numbers among the most popular works of its genre.
The precision teamwork characterizing this recording by Vladimir Soltan and the Hamburg Symphony is an absolute listening must. The music sparkles with delight and joy, making for true listening pleasure. And MDG’s 2+2+2 sound in three dimensions enhances this sublime experience: you are right there, live, in the midst of musical things – so fasten your seatbelts!
On his album the young Belorussian clarinetist Vladimir Soltan gives his all while enjoying superb ensemble support from the Hamburg Symphony. Under its conductor José Luís Gómez this orchestra simply surpasses itself in concertante competition with the soloist.
MDG 901 1964-6 (Hybrid SACD)