Don Satz refers to a Fanfare review of the Solere Clarinet Concertos on
Orfeo. As the Fanfare reviewer in question, I plead guilty to enthusiasm
and offer my review as corroborative evidence:
SOLERE Concerto for Two Clarinets in E-flat*. Clarinet Concerto in E-flat.
Concerto Espagnol - Dieter Klocker, Sandra Arnold* (cls); Milan Lajcik,
cond; Prague CO - ORFEO C 481 991 A (64:34)
If you haven't heard of Pedro Etienne Solere (1753-1817), don't worry:
I hadn't either, though I spend large chunks of my life grubbing round
obscure places where there might be interesting music to be discovered.
So imagine my astonished pleasure when I discover that this
composer-who-is-not-even-a-name-to-me wrote music that, quite literally,
made me shiver with delight. First things first, though; I'll give you
the score-sheet later.
Solere (not Soler, though who knows, he may have been a relation of Antonio
or Vicente Martin y Soler) was born in 1753 near the French border with
Spain, moving to Paris as a young man, where his clarinet playing gained
him establishment favor. He traveled widely as a virtuoso before being
appointed professor of clarinet when the Paris Conservatoire was founded.
And he was obviously a natural writer for his instrument when he sat down
with a pen: A competent command of structure and of scoring meant that he
could prepare the orchestra as a canvas over which to lay the foreground of
his instrument. The E-flat Concerto for solo clarinet seems to have been
composed largely by one Joseph Ignaz Schnabel (1767--1831), with Solere
enlivening the solo part, although the division of labor is not entirely
clear. Whatever the truth of it, it's enchanting--spontaneous, clear-cut,
melodically immediate, charming.
The two-clarinet concerto is something else. Once upon a time, when I was
a fifteen-year-old on a school trip to Switzerland, I was ensconced with a
few spotty coevals on a train (I can't remember where we were going but it
must have been important) when a group of Swiss soldiers climbed on board.
These chaps were big mothers and we schoolboys gulped and sat back against
our seats. But when the soldiers sat down, they began to sing, to yodel,
for the entire length of our journey, so wonderfully that it was only the
fear of abandonment that got me off the train. I hadn't thought about that
journey for nearly three decades--until I played this disc. The
two-clarinet concerto opens the CD, and I didn't know what to expect of
this unknown Solere--then the yodeling starts! And it really does sound
like my dimly remembered Swiss soldiers: Spontaneous counterpoint,
involved textures that nonetheless have nothing of the academic about them
at all--with the same sense of exhilarated surprise that leaves me gurgling
with pleasure. Not only that: The sound of two clarinets out on a caper
is like nothing else--it thrills and tickles at the same time.
A last word about the Concerto Espagnol: expansive first movement,
slow-movement Romanza with a juicy drone in the trio--and, ear-jerkingly,
a percussion-fizzed fandango as a closing movement.
Dieter Klocker plays with liquid suavity in all three works, joined
in elegant loquacity in the double concerto by Sandra Arnold, the whole
brightly accompanied by the Prague Chamber Orchestra. The clarinet tone
in these recordings is so faithfully reproduced that you feel like sliding
I promised a score-sheet: 5/10 on the harmony, which is pretty
conventional, but straight gold stars on everything else. This is a
wonderful recording, and you will feel much the better for listening to
it. Indeed, if you're looking for an unusual Christmas card, buy a stock
of them and make all your friends as happy as you will be. You want one
word to buttonhole this disc? Easy: Magical.