Clarinettist Paul Dean is an acclaimed soloist and chamber musician who is rapidly developing an enviable reputation on the world stage. Those familiar with his work as Artistic Director of the Southern Cross Soloists have come to expect performances of great inspiration and virtuosity. His recent recording on Melba records, Sublime Mozart, provides healthy doses of both, in fresh readings of two of Mozart’s most treasured works for clarinet. Couple together are the Clarinet Concerto K622 and the Quintet K581.
Very few will disagree in referring to Mozart’s works as sublime, especially in the case of the two works featured on this disc. On hearing Dean’s performances, I suspect few would find grounds to accuse Melba of false advertising. The concerto has a great energy and refined joi de vivre. Performed on the modern A clarinet, this contemporary reading of the concerto perfectly balances Dean’s soloistic flair and musical sensitivity.
Under the baton of Guillaume Tourniaire, an up and coming French conductor, the Queensland Orchestra produces a warm and rich sound ... The quintet is in many ways the highlight of this disc. A vivid performance by the Grainger Quartet makes them an ideal partner to Dean’s theatrical interpretation. This playing is imbued with a sense of spontaneity and commitment, although it is clear that a considerable amount of thoughtful planning went into this performance, given the strong sense of ensemble and tight musicianship.
The disc itself is lavishly parcelled with an informative booklet, presenting William Yeoman’s excellent liner notes in English, French and German, decorated with images and thorough information about the recording process itself, including credits to every member of the orchestra playing in the concerto, an element that all recording companies should endeavour to adopt.
A feature of this recording across both works is Dean’s extraordinary execution of articulation, demonstrating supreme precision and clarity, matched with a smoothness and liquidity of tone that would be the envy of other clarinettists ... Melba themselves are obviously proud of this release, selecting it to attach a special dedication to their founding Benefactor, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE in order of her centenary this year.
With the Grainger Quartet’s recent disbandment this is perhaps their last recording as a featured ensemble and should be deemed a collector’s item. A beautifully presented, artistically satisfying release. In a word: sublime.