Crusell is a name known to every lover of clarinet music. That is his concertos for this instrument are well-loved and –known. These compositions rank among the best written for the instrument. But who has ever heard chamber music by this most significant Finnish composer of the Classical period, who, not surprisingly, was a clarinettist himself.
Clarinet players have to make do with a relatively small number a really great works. Among his many activities, Dutch clarinettist Henk de Graaf is always on the lookout for lesser-known repertoire. For instance he earlier recorded five clarinet concertos by Johann Melchior Molter.
On this record De Graaf presents three quartets for clarinet and strings by Bernhard Crusell. Not much is known about the genesis of these pieces. The earliest reference dates from 1803, Crusell was 28, the year he travelled to France from his residential Stockholm, where he was a court musician all his life.
Crusell’s musical style conforms to the ‘Viennese Classicism’ combined with traces of French opera, repertoire he must have played with the court orchestra. Unlike his concertos these quartets are not really demanding for the performers. However, they still are delightful pieces to listen to.