Luigi Magistrelli

Carl Gottlieb Reissiger: Works for Clarinet & Piano

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Karl Gottlieb Reissiger lived from 1798 to 1859, not, as the back cover of this album states, from 1770 to 1827 (that would be Beethoven). Primarily known as an opera conductor and composer, he also wrote a variety of orchestral and chamber works, including the five for clarinet performed here. All except the opening Duo Brillant, Op. 30, were originally for clarinet and orchestra and are presented here in piano transcriptions that seem to have been made by the composer himself or at least to date from his own time. Nevertheless, the music might be more effective in orchestral versions. It is idiomatically written for the clarinet, and the executions by clarinetist Luigi Magistrelli are technically confident. But the structures are low-contrast, meandering things. The Deuxième Fantasie, Op. 180 (or Fantaisie, as the booklet has it), is subtitled "L'attente et l'arrivée," translated here as Longing and Fulfillment. But it's not exactly clear where the longing leaves off and the fulfillment begins. Is it at the passionate theme about three and a half minutes in? Or the march-like theme (an odd choice in this context) about 90 seconds after that? The most interesting segments are those using the alla pollaca (or polacca, as one commentator quoted in the booklet has it), a 6/4 rhythm that anticipates the folk-influenced chamber music from later in the century; the Duo Brillant launches into a set of variations in this rhythm and then inventively returns to the opening material for its finale. The formally stricter Concertino, Op. 63, also contains some attractively ornate clarinet writing. For the most part, though, Reissiger's clarinet music does not stand comparison with that of Weber, whom he succeeded at the Dresden Opera, and this album is going to be of interest mostly to close researchers of German concert life in the nineteenth century.

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