There is a lot of Queensland in this handsome production dedicated to Australia’s centenarian extraordinaire Dame Elisabeth Murdoch who is also the Melba Foundation Founding Benefactor, and an avid lover of Mozart’s music. As soloist with The Queensland Orchestra in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A, Paul Dean plays with all the virtuosic style that has won him honours as ‘the most distinguished clarinettist of his generation.’ He also joins the Grainger Quartet of which former Brisbane violinist James Cuddeford is a member, in a performance of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A.
It will probably be the sinuous adagio movement of the clarinet concerto that draws most attention, a wondrously profound creation to which Dean brings impeccable technique to capture the heights and the depths of the work written by Mozart a few months before he died. The third movement is sheer virtuosity in the writing, and in this reading by Dean. Here, as in the clarinet quintet with the Grainger Quartet, Dean weaves the clarinet voice with the accompanying instruments in deft strokes of expressive force. He can bubble with vitality through the devilish runs and leaps created by Mozart, or spin out lustrous phrases with equal facility. His playing also soars in the quintet’s romantic and lyrical larghetto, where the clarinet takes centre stage and the strings add muted responses. A tighter partnership forms in the many variations of the final movement and the players grasp the opportunities abounding to develop the interweaving themes, from light-hearted to darker shades, to complete this tribute to Mozart, and to a great Australian.