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Review of Crusell's Clarinet Concertos op. 5 and op. 11

Bernhard Crusell (1775-1838) was an eminent finnish clarinettist, composer and translator who lived and made the career in Sweden (Royal Court Orchestra) for most of his life. The clarinet world must be very grateful to him for the superb quality of his clarinet compositions he left to us. He also composed vocal works, music for stage ( the Opera Little Slave Girl), and chamber music including flute, bassoon and oboe. The clarinet compositions include three Concertos, three Quartets with strings, three clarinet duets, from “Ganges' beauteous strands" for voice, clarinet & piano, Concert Trio (Potpourri) for clarinet, horn, and bassoon, Sinfonia concertante in B-flat major Op. 3, for clarinet, horn, bassoon and orchestra, Introduction et Air suedois Op. 12, for clarinet and orchestra. These two most recent Henle Urtext publications edited by Nicolai Pfeffer of the Clarinet Concertos op 5 and op 11 ( the Concerto op 1 is scheduled to be published in summer 2016) are most welcomed. Nicolai Pfeffer has been quite accurate consulting the extant early sources for this new publications. Crusell, after studying in Berlin with F. Tausch and in Paris with X. Lefevre became a well known and celebrated solo clarinettist around Europe, infact all the extant 50 reviews of his concerts appear to be extremely good. His round sound and the quality of his pianissimo were often highlighted. His Concertos are very well conceived and well written for an instrument he knew so well. Unfortunately we don’t have the original manuscripts of these beautiful compositions, so the Henle publications are based on the early editions and handwritten scores and solo parts (but not an autograph from Crusell ) from which Pfeffer took the material to make his nice job. Most of the articulations are clearly written, only in some passages are not present. In this case, as it could appear logical and according to the performance practice of the classical and late classical periods, all the smart clarinettists should be free to mastermind their own articulations, cadenzas and ornamentations.

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