No. 1 in B♭; No. 2 in e.
Le Rêve. Scéne romantique. Fantasy on a Theme of Mozart. Le Château de Madrid; Souvenir de Dobbéran
Friederike Roth (cl);
Wenzel Fuchs (cl); Erika le Roux (pn);
NAXOS 8.572885 (73: 00)
Iwan (Ivan) Müller (1786–1854) was an Estonian-born German clarinetist who developed the
, the 13-keyed instrument, played by such virtuosos as Johann Hermstedt and Heinrich Baermann, that made it possible to play in any key without the use of fork-fingerings that made chromatic passages very difficult, and sounded bad to boot. Previous clarinets were limited to as few as six or seven keys. This clarinet was the direct ancestor of the Oehler-system clarinet still used in Germanic countries today. Müller’s compositions were largely vehicles for showing off his new instrument and his considerable virtuosity; this CD offers a generous selection of them.
The two quartets for clarinet and strings, published in 1820, are the most interesting pieces here. The first is tuneful and includes considerable technical display; its slow movement is in the unusual key of G♭-Major and would have been impossible on earlier clarinets. The second is in E Minor, and features striking use of chromaticism. The remaining pieces are essentially “clarinet music” (as distinct from music for clarinet), and are technically quite difficult even on modern clarinets. The
is an introduction and five variations on “Signor, Guardate un poco” from
. Friederike Roth, a young clarinetist who studied with Ralph Manno and François Benda, has the technique to handle Müller’s most difficult writing, and an attractive if bright sound that is typical of today’s better German clarinetists. She is joined in the
Souvenir de Dobbéran
by the Berlin Philharmonic’s Wenzel Fuchs.
The rest of the supporting cast is strong as well; these are enjoyable performances. Müller’s music has had very few recordings, so this disc is a welcome addition to the clarinet repertoire. I must confess that a certain fatigue sets in when listening to the entire disc; it’s best sampled one or two pieces at a time. Recommended to clarinet specialists and mavens.
Richard A. Kaplan