I sense that over the next few months we are going to be torn apart by politicians trying to persuade us that we should be in or out of Europe. Big decision. Whilst we make the decision we should have some light relief along the way and the clarinet concertos by Franz Krommer may go some way to providing this. They are very easy, cheerful, upbeat pieces of music to listen to. There isn't much to write about Franz Krammer which must mean that he led a normal life and unlike many other composers he wasn't a tortured soul who suffered from demons or an awful illness.
Franz Krommer was a Czech composer from the late eighteenth century who was a contemporary of Haydn and Mozart. Initially he was taught music by his uncle until 1785 when he arrived in the Imperial City of Vienna as a 26 year old violinist. Shortly after he arrived he picked up various position teaching music in aristocratic households until 1813 when he was appointed court composer to Emperor Francis II of Austria - the last Holy Roman Emperor.
Kromer wrote over 300 works of which only a handful have survived including these clarinet concertos. The recording I recommend has all three concertos, although two of them are concertos for two clarinets. The composer clearly liked the key of Eb major which is the key that all three concertos are in. These are very easy works to listen to as throughout the clarinets interplay with the orchestra in a continuous dialogue which makes it so satisfying and is what has ensured that these works are a staple of the clarinet repertoire. In the concertos for two clarinets there are wonderful passages where the two instruments interweave with each other which gives the works so much colour.
Listen to the 3rd movement of the Clarinet Concerto in Eb major Op 91 - Alla Polacca - as the title suggests it takes on the rhythm of a dance. YouTube
Or try the Clarinet Concert in Eb Op 36 - third movement on YouTube