Emma Johnson

Mozart: Clarinet Concerto; Clarinet Quintet

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Renowned as a world-class performer of exquisite taste and refinement, Emma Johnson is eminently suited to perform Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and the Clarinet Quintet, two capstones of the instrument's literature and supreme masterpieces by any definition. Backed in the Concerto by Raymond Leppard and the English Chamber Orchestra, Johnson plays with vitality in the Allegro, moving eloquence in the Adagio, and joyful ebullience in the Rondo, and her polished presentation is surely among the best sounding and most idiomatic on disc. Her performance of the sublime Quintet is even more pleasing, for the intimacy of the ensemble allows Johnson to play sweetly and with a relaxed, conversational tone. Violinists Gabor Takács-Nagy and Rebecca Hirsch, violist Tim Boulton, and cellist Andrew Shulman join Johnson as equals, so the exchanges between instruments are responsive, well-balanced, and even in expression. Reissued with Carl Maria von Weber's limpid Concertino in E flat and Heinrich Baermann's touching Adagio in D flat major, Johnson's performances were originally recorded between 1985 and 1999, and released on separate discs. This 2004 ASV Gold album combines these fine recordings in one convenient package, with especially good remastering in Mozart's works, though with less clarity and presence in the last two pieces.

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