Many of the composers in this set wrote for the clarinet at times when the orchestral status and design of the instrument were still in transition: the 18th century saw the gradual establishment of the clarinet as a more-or-less standard orchestral feature, its range being continually expanded in parallel.
Of course, nobody was more aware of these evolutions than clarinettists themselves, who are represented here by two instrumentalist–composers, the Swedish-Finnish Bernhard Crusell, whose three concertos make use of the clarinet’s full range, and Heinrich Baermann, the dedicatee of Weber’s works blessed with a wonderful personal idiom.
Other names which may be less familiar to listeners include Charles Villiers Stanford, a leading figure in the late-19th-century renaissance of British music who is often overshadowed by Elgar and Vaughan Williams, and Julius Rietz, most closely associated with Mendelssohn, both of whom contribute concertos with clear influences (Brahms and Mendelssohn respectively) that still retain their individuality.
Mendelssohn himself is not often associated with the clarinet, but features here via his Concert Pieces for clarinet, basset horn and piano, alongside other unexpected figures such as Rossini and Mercadante (both better known for their operas) and Franz Anton Hoffmeister, most famous as a music publisher. The other multiple-soloist compositions come from the pen of Carl Stamitz, a prolific composer who contributed more than ten concertos featuring the clarinet. Equally prolific was Franz Krommer, whose concertos are among the most unpredictable and imaginative in the set.
Also notable for its innovative style is Copland’s concerto, influenced by jazz and written in response to a commission from famous jazz clarinettist Goodman. By contrast, Bruch, despite living through the diverse innovations of the late 18th and early 19th century, remained steadfast and consistent in his compositional approach.
The history of the Clarinet concertos goes back to the middle of the 18th century, when the instrument got its prominent solo place in the orchestra. The present-day form of the clarinet is derived from the Chalumeau, a folk instrument played by shepherds. Technical improvements by Denner, Boehm and Klosé gave it its modern form. Ever since its multi faced timbre, from soothingly murmuring to nervously chattering, has won a large popularity and has inspired many composers to write extensively for it.
This 14-disc set encompasses the full spectrum of concertante clarinet writing: an extensive collection of Clarinet Concertos, from the very first concertos by Molter, the most famous one by Mozart, Hoffmeister, Baermann, Stamitz, Krommer, Crusell, Mercadante, Rietz, Rossini, Bruch, Weber, Stanford, and well into the 20th century with Hindemith, Busoni, Finzi, Copland and Tansman.
Played by world renowned clarinetist like Dieter Klöcker, Sharon Kam, Kálmán Berkes, Davide Bandieri, Maria du Toit and Giovanni Punzi.
Another treasure trove in the successful series of Brilliant Classics instrument Boxes! Previous boxes featured the oboe, trumpet, flute and horn.