MDG 901 1964-6 (Hybrid SACD)
On his album 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.
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!
MDG 903 2198-6 (Hybrid SACD)
"Vladimir Soltan, together with the magnificent Utrecht String Quartet, unites these two contrasting works on a brand new Super Audio CD, which highlights the enormous stylistic range of the first decades of the 20th century.
The Clarinet Quintet is Max Reger's last completed composition; he survived the mailing of the manuscript to his publisher by only a few days. Paul Hindemith's contribution to the same genre was written a few years later and is the daring work of a young iconoclast. While Reger orientates himself on the great models Mozart and Brahms, whose quintets are still setting standards today, Hindemith rather refers to the tradition of the Divertimento. If Reger's work is laid out in classical four-movements, Hindemith presents five parts, whereby the last movement forms a note for note mirror-image version of the first.
Vladimir Soltan, together with the Utrecht String Quartet, also manages this artistic balancing act with great mastery. The young Belarusian clarinettist is able to plumb the depths of the old work as well as to implement the carefree freshness of the new. Lovingly balanced and captured in ultra-fine Super Audio CD technology, this new production is also a delight in terms of sound."