One can never have enough Mozart or Brahms Clarinet Quintet recordings in a collection. With both composers in mind, I wish Jörg Widmann would have added the Brahms to the Mozart rather than the accompanying Mozart String Quartet K421. His playing is that good. A revelation, actually.
Not that you’ll be slumming with the superb Arcanto Quartet (founded in 2002). They perform Mozart as well as any and you’ll love their performance of the second of the so called ‘Haydn Quartets’ (No. 15 in D minor K.421). Dedicated to ‘To my dear friend Haydn’, the performance by the Arcantos will have you wishing for a complete set.
The five exceptional musicians settle in for a performance of the sublime Quintet that is exciting, musical, dynamic, rhythmic and brilliant. It has become one of my favourite recordings, up there with stellar clarinettists like de Peyer, Leister and Meyer.
Widmann is even more famous as a composer. I much prefer his artistry on the clarinet. He’s the ‘composer of choice’ these days in modern music. Commissions from Berlin and Cleveland among others. I heard his ‘Lied’ with Vienna Philharmonic last year where he had them baying and screeching and sounding very un VPO like. There’s also a Flute Concerto (Cleveland Orchestra commission, premiered by Joshua Smith) that I heard Berlin PO flutist Emmanuel Pahud play with pastiches of Bach. Not a fan!
As for his clarinet playing? It’s German style in the very best sense — elegant with a glorious tone that is under total control. Widmann does not play in an orchestra, he concentrates on his teaching in Freiberg and chamber music. You won’t find more musical clarinet playing on record. Very highly recommended.
harmonia mundi HMC902168
Playing Time: 58:45