In the 19th century, most of the work in developing repertoire for the clarinet was being done by Italian musicians. Naxos' Italian Clarinet Suites, featuring clarinetist Sergio Bosi and pianist Riccardo Bartoli, visits four suites of Italian provenance created between 1878 and 1910. Of course, solo clarinet literature falls mostly into the realm of interest of clarinet players, and the Alessandro Longo Suite, Op. 62 (1910), is reasonably well known to them; it is the only composition of Domenico Scarlatti's first editor to gain some traction in the repertoire. While Italian composer Ferruccio Busoni is easily the most famous composer on this disc, his Suite (1878) is an early work -- probably written for his father, a virtuoso clarinetist -- and not so. The Sei Bozzetti (1909) of Antonio Scontrino and the Suite, Op. 44 (1901), of Giuseppe Frugatta are both by mega-obscure Italian composers and aren't even known to clarinetists.
So one is immediately moved to consider, "as this is mostly new to us, is this repertoire worthwhile?" The Longo suite certainly is, which is what has kept it in the clarinet repertoire so long, and the Busoni work has that amazing property of immediacy and individuality that is apparent even in the works he created when he was still a child. The Frugatta suite, while redolent of Italian opera, has some quirky harmonic touches that help keep it interesting, whereas Scontrino's Bozzetti really do not transcend their time and wear the least well of the four works on the program. Naxos' recording is close and unvarnished. However, the major issue with this disc is the players; while Bosi has fine dexterity on the clarinet, his tone is just not something you love; it has a narrow and somewhat strained quality that makes you think about how much you would like to be listening to another clarinet player. Bartoli's accompaniment is competent, but routine and in some passages desultory, as though he's also reading the newspaper as he plays. If you want to hear the Longo because you're playing it in a recital, then it might be worth it to obtain Naxos' Italian Clarinet Suites. Otherwise, it doesn't provide listening pleasure in the sense that most would expect of it.