7 Apr 2022

NIELSEN: Clarinet Concerto Op 57

From Music Alive, 8:03 pm on 7 April 2022

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

Performed by Jonathan Cohen and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Giordano Bellincampi.

Jonathan Cohen

Jonathan Cohen Photo: supplied

When Carl Nielsen heard the Copenhagen Wind Quintet play, he was bowled over by the musicality of their playing.

He immediately composed a wind quintet for the group then announced he planned to write a solo concerto for each of them too. But he only managed to complete two of those concertos before he died in 1931: the work for flute in 1926 and for clarinet two years later. They were his last large-scale orchestral pieces.

He wrote the Clarinet Concerto in 1928 for the clarinettist Aage Oxenvad, who was known to be quite extreme in his emotions, and the piece reflects that, ranging from quiet murmurings to violent outbursts.

Although the concerto’s wild mood-swings puzzled audiences in 1928,  today it’s regarded as one of Nielsen’s most original works.

Nielsen set himself the task of covering that whole range of the instrument’s conflicting emotions and colours. As he said, "the clarinet can, at one and the same time, seem utterly hysterical, gentle as balsam, or as screechy as a streetcar on badly greased rails".

Recorded by RNZ Concert, Auckland Town Hall, 24 February 2022
Producer: Tim Dodd
Engineer: Adrian Hollay

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