This release features the best Belgian clarinettist, Roeland Hendrikx, in collaboration with one of the world’s oldest and finest orchestras, the London Philharmonic. Hendrikx, incidentally, is the first Belgian virtuoso to team up with this illustrious ensemble.
On the programme is the most famous clarinet concerto (Mozart’s), an undeservedly lesser known concerto (Bruch’s Double Concerto for Clarinet and Viola), and an erroneously forgotten one (by Gerald Finzi). All three concertos are more appropriately dubbed “clarinettist” concertos instead of clarinet concertos: more than any other instrument, the clarinet is a medium for personal dedication to specific virtuosi. Mozart created his clarinet concerto for Anton Stadler, while Max Bruch dedicated his (double) concerto to his son Max Felix.
In some cases, however, the link between piece and performer is even stronger. Hendrikx had front row access to Gerald Finzi’s delicately autumnal concerto via his teacher Thea King, doyenne of British clarinettists and spouse of Frederick Thurston, who premiered the Finzi-concerto in 1949. According to Hendrikx, “Thea must have witnessed the creation process. In her own hand, she scribbled helpful recommendations in my score, which may have been passed on from Thurston, if not from Finzi himself”.
But there is more. On 27 April 1998, Thea King bequeathed to Hendrikx the letters Finzi had written to her late husband between 1948 and 1953: they document the first ideas for the concerto, its genesis, and its growing post-premiere fame. These letters enable Hendrikx to go beyond the notes of the concerto, meet the protagonists, and do some sightseeing in the music’s spatiotemporal context.
The Finzi-Thurston letters are extensively dealt with in the liner notes to this CD, which is a veritable tribute to the concert clarinet: Hendrikx and the London Philharmonic Orchestra pay homage to a genre, its gems, and its genius performers.
G. Finzi: Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra, Op.31
W.A. Mozart: Concerto in A Major for Clarinet and Orchestra, K. 622
M. Bruch: Double Concerto for Clarinet and Viola with Orchestra, Op. 88