It matters not that the clarinetist Sabine Meyer is German and pianist Oleg Maisenberg is Ukrainian: this recital of clarinet sonatas is still French to the bone marrow. The principal reason for this, naturally, is the repertoire. With works by Saint-Saëns, Poulenc, Devienne, and Milhaud, this recital could hardly be anything but French. But while other non-native players might misplace the accents or misjudge the rhythms, Meyer and Maisenberg are deep into the Gallic groove. Of course, no matter what the language, Meyer is a consummate musician with an immaculate technique and unfailingly good taste, and Maisenberg is a polished accompanist with a strong technique and unhesitatingly generous support. But here they speak French like natives. Their Saint-Saëns is tart, tender, and reserved. Their Poulenc is sweet, soulful, and insouciant. Their Devienne is smart, stunning, and virtuosic. And their encore -- three movements from Milhaud's Scaramouche arranged for clarinet and piano -- is wry, witty, and, in the closing Brazileira, fall-down funny. Captured by producer John Fraser in sound so real you'll swear this is no recording at all, but rather purest aural magic, this disc commends itself to Francophiles of any nationality.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Sonata for clarinet & piano in E flat major, Op. 167|
|Sonata for clarinet & piano, FP 184|
|Sonata for clarinet & piano No. 1 in C major|
|Scaramouche (3), suite for clarinet & orchestra (or piano), Op. 165d|