Well I have got here. This is my first blog and I feel rather pleased with myself that I can work the “back end” of the blogging website. I am terrified of anything IT and so have secretly being putting this off. My computer just needs to flicker and I am practically reaching for the valium.....one of the blissful things about working for EMI Classics was when there was a problem with the computer you just dialed IT and over they popped. In fact over popped rather an adonis so a technical hitch could became quite a pleasurable experience. Not so when you are on your own.
Luckily those clever people who designed the blogging website have made it reasonably user friendly for idiots like me, so after a few lessons we are off...
It is very difficult to choose the first piece of music for this blog. There are so many, infact thousands of amazing classical pieces, (all of which are easy on the ear), so it is difficult to know what to recommend as the first piece. I think Mozart is always a good place as he wrote tune after tune. So I am going to recommend the Clarinet Concerto in A major, which is a gorgeous piece of music, you don’t have to know anything about Classical Music to just fall in love with this piece.
This was the last piece of instrumental music that Mozart wrote but the first ever written for the Clarinet. The concerto was completed in early October 1791 and received it’s first performance on October 16. Infact this, and other later compositions all took their toll on Mozart’s health and seven weeks later he was dead.
Mozart originally wrote this for the Bassett Clarinet, which has much deeper tones and was invented by a friend of his called Anton Stadler, who was a virtuoso clarinettist. The original score was lost and the version we hear nowadays was re-edited by Mozart’s publisher for the instrument we have now.
The Clarinet is the most sublime instrument (I should have played it but more on that another day). It is an instrument so akin to the voice, the lower notes are warm and rich, the middle mellow and smoky and the top register is cool and bright. As you can hear from that utterly beautiful slow movement, Mozart certainly knew how to bring the best out of the instrument.
The Concerto has the usual 3 movements. The first begins with a wonderful free, happy melody and very soon Mozart takes advantage of the instruments agility with exciting leaps from high to low notes. The second movement is undoubtedly one of Mozart’s most heavenly slow movements, he had an ability to mix sadness with beauty. Finally the last movement is chirpy and comical, again Mozart takes advantage of the technical virtuosity of the Clarinettist.
The recording I have chosen is by Emma Johnson, described by The Times as “Britain’s favourite clarinettist”. She won the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1984 which launched her career which now sees her performing and recording with orchestras all round the world. On this particular recording you are able to download just the Concerto although you can also have the option to download the Mozart Clarinet Quintet as well (but more on that another day).
You can listen to the Concerto on youtube
Download from iTunes
But from Amazon