Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto: a perfect choice

Few classical composers write for the clarinet like Mozart and this performance from Neville Marriner is a must for any music library.

Composer: Mozart
Repertoire: Clarinet Concerto; Clarinet Quintet
Artists: Andrew Marriner (clarinet), Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Neville Marriner
Rating: 5/5
Genre: Instrumental
Label: PentaTone 5186 048

Nobody has ever written for the clarinet quite like Mozart. He transformed it into the next best thing to the human voice; and in its repertoire there can be no works better loved than his Concerto and Quintet. That makes them the perfect choice for this family celebration: a CD to mark the 50th birthday of clarinettist Andrew Marriner and the 80th of his father, Neville, who takes the podium in his own inimitable style for the concerto.

Neville Marriner’s recordings with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields were seminal among chamber orchestra interpretations of 18th-century repertoire 30 years ago or more and this performance makes it clear that he has lost none of  his magic touch. The instrumental balance is carefully and beautifully worked out; the tempos are spacious but never lacking in spirit; the phrasing and articulation miss no detail but still flow like conversational operatic scenes; and the performers’ sheer affection for the music shines out of every bar. The chamber ensemble of players from the Academy matches the full orchestra in quality and there’s some particularly lovely playing from violinist Kenneth Sillito. Listeners with SACD equipment can also make the most of the superb sound quality.