Previously published on August 24
Jörg Widmann as clarinettist (he’s also a composer and a conductor) takes on Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) and wins. Not that it’s a pugilistic contest, more a challenge for the soloist, especially in the bravura writing in the fast music, zillions of notes to negotiate – for which Widmann delivers staggering virtuosity as well as discerning musicianship. He’s no-less ear-catching in Weber’s lyrical invention, shapely and appealing.
The E-flat Concertino (Opus 26) is full of delights, so too the B-flat Clarinet Quintet (Opus 34), which works well here with more than four string instruments. In these pieces Widmann is tactilely partnered by the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Putting aside his clarinet for ten minutes Widmann conducts the ICO in the Overture to Der Freischütz – he gives it his best shot to conjure a suspenseful, powerful and romantic account of this operatic entrée. And with Denis Kozhukhin at the piano, very much in the aural picture as well as the clarinettist’s equal in terms of listener allure, Widmann offers the E-flat Grand Duo Concertant (Opus 48), music to hang a narrative on if you so wish.
The production values and recorded sound are of the highest quality – Andrew Keener, Simon Eadon and Dave Rowell in Limerick, 2016/19, and Stefan Lang in Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal for the with-piano Duo, also last year. Alpha 637 is released on August 28.