Sabine Meyer Performs Mozart

Mozart Clarinet Concerto, K. 622; and Sinfonia Concertante

Occasionally, a composition or an interpreter takes on particular meaning, because of historical circumstances. There several such significant factors that relate to this piece:

1. This piece was composed close to the end of Mozart’s life. Note the s0-called “Koechel” number, which is the catalog index to Mozart’s works. Only a few other compositions share this high number: the Opera Zauberfloete, and the Requiem, which was actually not completed when Mozart died in 1791.

2. Like many other famous clarinet concerti this piece was written with a specific clarinetist in mind. Anton Stadler, Mozart’s friend, was one of the leading clarinetists of his day. Mozart had already written other music for Stadler, including his famous Clarinet Qunitet.

3.  Ms. Sabine Meyer became well-known not only because of her outstanding ability as a clarinet player. She was appointed as the Berlin Philharmonic’s, first ever female member, having won a blind competitive audition.  Herbert von Karajan,  the orchestra’s music director, hired her in September 1982, but the players later voted to dismiss her from the orchestra by a vote of 73 to 4. The orchestra insisted that the reason was the quality of her  “tone,” but other observers, including Karajan himself, believed that the reason was because of her gender. Amazing, huh??

Now let’s talk about the composition and performance: Ms Meyer does a terrific job of conveying phrasing, pathos, innocence, playfulness, and naiveté which Mozart wrote into this piece. Her tone is dark at times, partly because she plays a basset clarinet for which the work was written, and partly because she is such a superb musician.

In the first movement, Ms. Meyer displays a marvelous naturalness with this music. She includes her own ornamentations in the concerto very much in line with what players and Mozart himself did as part of a performance. The slow movement explores great sadness, yet the Finale is as jocular and fun-loving as one could imagine Mozart to be.

Also on this CD is a recording of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Clarinet, Oboe, Horn, and Bassoon. This is a wonderful composition, as well, as the soloists are ably supported by the Dresden State Orchestra under Hans Vonk.

I never get tired of this music; you’ll love it, too!

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