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David Hurwitz, December 1999

Finnish/Swedish composer and clarinet virtuoso Bernhard Crusell (1775-1838) was responsible for a number of fine compositions in the late Classical style typified by musicians such as Cherubini, Hummel, Krommer, Kraus, and the young Schubert. Like fellow Swede Franz Berwald, Crusell's impact in Scandinavia, then dominated by Swedish imperial culture, was enormous. Not only did he introduce Mozart's Clarinet Concerto to his homeland, his example and the high quality of his compositions lead directly to the great schools of Romantic Scandinavian music. The three works included in this ebullient, appealing CD display every facet of the solo instrument, from the high spirited "Alla polacca" finale to the Third Concerto, to the soulful lyricism of the Second Concerto's Andante pastorale. This is a guy who really knows his clarinet, and these works rank, with the similar works of Mozart, Krommer, Weber, and Spohr, among the most important repertoire for the instrument. Soloist Per Billman knows his clarinet at least as well as did Crusell; he plays beautifully, and receives alert accompaniment from his Swedish colleagues. Delightful.

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