Berr: Opera Fantasies for Clarinet & Piano

Berr: Opera Fantasies for Clarinet & Piano
Composer Friedrich Berr
Artist Luigi Magistrelli clarinet
Claudio Bracco piano
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 97094
EAN code 5028421970943
Release June 2024

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About this release

The name of Friedrich Berr (1794-1838) is well known to young clarinettists across the world, as the author of solos, duets and methods for students to learn the instrument. His more elaborate pieces have largely been forgotten, except for a Rossinian fantasia which has often been mistaken for the work of his more illustrious friend. Now Luigi Magistrelli sets the record straight with a collection of fantasias and arrangements, most of them taking operatic pieces by Auber and Rossini for their subjects, a set of ‘Instructive Variations’ and an arrangement of the Overture to Rossini’s L’assedio di Corinto, for two clarinets, where he is joined by his sister Laura Magistrelli.

The album opens with a fantasia on Auber’s La muette de Portici, and continues in similarly spectacular vein with a fantasia on Rossini’s William Tell. Luigi Magistrelli explores the significance of Berr’s arrangements in a booklet essay: ‘Examining the many clarinet compositions of Berr, nowadays completely forgotten, I selected the most interesting ones. Most of them are structured with a typical form involving introduction, theme and variations of both well-known and less known operas of his epoch. The Solos and Fantasies have appealing melodies and quite demanding technical passages well-conceived for the clarinet’s expressive resources.’

As an experienced soloist, teacher and chamber musician, Luca Magistrelli has led several albums of clarinet-centred chamber music for Brilliant Classics. ‘This offbeat disc will appeal to ardent fans of the clarinet, as well as admirers of the always stimulating music of C. P. E. Bach.’ (95307, Fanfare) ‘Bouffil is not only a composer who writes well for his own instrument – he is, in a wider sense, a sophisticated musician… The lead role is taken by Laura Magistrelli, who plays superbly and is well supported by Luigi Magistrelli.’ (96611, MusicWeb International) ‘The quality of the music [by Archduke Rudolph] is excellent; it is tautly and sentiently constructed, skilfully scored and with memorable themes…The performances are also impressive, evincing an excellent feel for the music and ensemble.’ (94952, American Record Guide)

- Friedrich Berr (1794-1838) was a German clarinettist, bassoonist and composer, born in Mannheim. As he moved to France he took a position in a wind band as a bassoonist. Later he took up the clarinet, becoming a player of a very high level. In Paris, he studied composition under the guidance of François-Joseph Fétis and Anton Reicha. In 1823 he moved to Paris for good and initially became second clarinettist at the Théâtre Italien. In 1831 he was appointed clarinet professor at the Paris Conservatory, and became the first clarinettist in the orchestra of the Théâtre Italien in 1833. He became friends with Rossini and arranged many of his works for wind ensemble.
- Berr composed a substantial corpus of clarinet repertoire including two clarinet concertos, many clarinet duos, 11 Airs variès, 11 Solos, 28 Fantasies and around 500 compositions and arrangements for wind band of operas.
- This recording presents Fantasies on popular opera arias and overtures, a festive display of instrumental virtuosity and melodious charm.
- Played by The Italian Consort and Luigi Magistrelli, one of the foremost clarinet players of Italy. He made many recordings for Brilliant Classics with works by C.P.E. Bach (95307), Giuliani (95541), Kummer (94472), Archduke Rudolph (94952), Rebay (94171) and Fuchs (96305). ‘Luigi Magistrelli is a skilled artist, with the fingers and the enthusiasm for Weber.’ Gramophone.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Friedrich Berr: Fantasy No. 9 for Piano and Clarinet on Motifs from La Muette de Portici by D.F.E. Auber, IFB 2
  2. Friedrich Berr: Fantaisie sur Guillaume Tell hommage à G. Rossini, IFB 21
  3. Friedrich Berr: Premier Solo
  4. Friedrich Berr: Solo No. 3
  5. Friedrich Berr: Fantaisie No. 5 on Frà Diavolo by D.F.E. Auber, IFB 23
  6. Friedrich Berr: Ouverture for 2 Clarinets from Siège De Corinthe by G. Rossini
  7. Friedrich Berr: Istruktive Variationen for Clarinet and Piano Edited by Karl Schuette
  8. Friedrich Berr: Fantaisie et variations concertantes on Motifs from Comte Ory by G. Rossini, IFB 11