Julian Bliss just played here in concert with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra on Saturday August 24. Normally I review perusal copies that are sent to me by recording companies, but I was so taken with the young clarinetists’ playing that after his Cincinnati engagement I purchased an autographed copy of his CD.
The CD is issued by the British label signum classics and excellently produced and engineered by the Signum team of Nicholas Parker and Mike Hatch.
The Carducci String Quartet is integrated by Mathew Denton and Michelle Fleming, violins, Eoin Schmidt-Martin, viola, and Emma Denton, cello. The four young players have made quite a place for themselves as one of the best string quartets in Britain, with a career that has taken them all over Europe and the United States. Listening to their exquisite playing on this CD is proof palpable of their excellence.
Together with Julian Bliss as a like-minded artist they make lovely music both in the Carl Maria von Weber Clarinet Quintet in B flat Major and in Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581.
The Weber work is a mature work by the author of the more familiar to some Der Freischütz, a quintessentially Romantic work in which the German composer gave free rein to his exuberant temperament. He does so here too, creating in his Clarinet Quintet in B flat Major a superb tour de force for the solo clarinet filled with music that in a different context could have been assigned to and sung by one of the virtuoso prima donnas of the time.
With clarinet virtuoso Heinrich Baermann, a personal friend of Weber, the composer had all the inspiration he needed to finally premiere the composition in 1815. With Julian Bliss on the musical driver’s seat in this technically challenging work and the collaborative work of the Carducci Quartet, Herr von Weber would have been over the moon with delight and equally inspired.
Seamlessly traveling a couple of decades back in time, the five Brits play with sublime cohesiveness and profoundly felt sensitivity in one of Mozart’s most inspired creations. The opening Allegro is vibrantly and elegantly rendered. In the serene second movement, labeled larghetto Bliss’ clarinet and first violin Matthew Denton engage in a profoundly moving arioso-like musical dialogue. They move from that to an elegant Menuetto, and ultimately to a virtuosic Rondo like Allegro chockfull of filigree variations.
The Signum CD will remain in my CD library as a treasured collector’s item. It is available from Signum at http://www.signumrecords.com
Rafael de Acha http://www.RafaelMusicNotes.com