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Ottensamer is a brilliant Austrian musician now the principal clarinet of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
He had previously been both a professional cellist and pianist. His father and older brother are clarinettists with the Vienna Philharmonic. In this debut solo album, he mixes three concertos with three brief pieces to show a wide range of musical styles, his impeccable technique and excellent purity of tone.
The album opens with the sparkling jazz of Gershwin's Prelude No 1 that gives the ears all too brief a merry treat. Aaron Copland's Clarinet Concerto (commissioned by Benny Goodman in 1947) follows to delight with an at times more gentle and cerebral mode of swing, before producing fierce outbursts from the instrument. In the cadenza, the soloist certainly shows complete mastery of the clarinet. The orchestra, with harp and piano, under the baton of Yannick Nezet-Seguin, gives a sensitive accompaniment that is beautifully recorded.
A beautiful arrangement of Debussy's brief The Girl with the Flaxen Hair follows, with silky tone and impressive control of dynamics from the clarinet, before the operatic gestures of Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801), His Concerto for Clarinet and Strings was ''freely arranged'' from the composer's keyboard works by Arthur Benjamin in 1942 and is intended for either oboe or clarinet.
Berceuse, originally a violin piece by American composer Amy Beach, is the enjoyable interlude before the early-Romantic intensity of Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra No 1, by Louis Spohr (1784-1859). Here, ''circular breathing'' from the soloist is needed to cope with some dazzlingly long fluid lines from the instrument.
Highlight: Copland's contrasts of mood and dynamics for clarinet.