Rosetti: Clarinet Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 (CD review)

Also, Concerto for Two Horns. Dieter Klocker, clarinet; Holger Schroter-Seebeck, SWR Symphony Orchestra of Baden-Baden and Freiburg. CPO 999 621-2.

Francesco Antonio Rosetti (c. 1750-1792) is hardly a household name anymore, and despite the name sounding Italian, he was born in Bohemia, a region of today's Czech Republic. As a Kapellmeister for much of his adult life, he composed quite a lot of music: symphonies (over fifty of them), concertos, partitas, songs, and various chamber works, with the concertos represented here among his most popular pieces.

The first thing that struck me upon listening to this disc was its wholly natural and realistic orchestral depth. Then, with the entrance of the clarinet in the program's first selection, the Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra No. 1 in E-flat major, it was the careful balance of the featured instrument with the rest of the ensemble that impressed me. I cannot imagine even the most finicky audiophile finding fault with the recording's 1998 sound and its excellent imaging from engineer Norbert Vossen.

Dieter Klocker
The next things I noticed about the music were the sweetness and gentleness of the concerto's two opening movements, Dieter Klocker's clarinet playfully caressing the orchestra throughout. This may be a composition of the mid-to-late Classical period (the exact date is unknown but 1789 would not be far off), yet one gets a feeling of early Romanticism in these sections. The piece ends with an enthusiastic and sprightly Rondo that, nevertheless, retains the mood, if not the tempo, of the preceding parts.

The Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra No. 2, here getting its premiere recording, sounds more ambitious and sophisticated in its instrumental texture and does not convey the same innocence of spirit as the Concerto No. 1 possesses. Nevertheless, Maestro Holger Schroter-Seebeck and his players give it a good and thorough outing, and the results are satisfying.

Concluding the program is Rosetti's Concerto for Two Horns and Orchestra, also in its premiere recording. It is more symphonic in structure and tone than the Clarinet Concertos and, while still entertaining, sounds more commonplace than the accompanying works. The CPO engineers capture the horns quite well, however, and one will find their presence alone a good deal of fun.

This is superb album of unusual and highly enjoyable repertoire that one should not dismiss out of hand just because the name Antonio Rosetti is relatively obscure. In his time, audiences knew and appreciated Rosetti. With discs like this one, maybe people will again get to know him.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

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It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa