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USD $15.99
024-126
Cohler plays & conducts Weber
Jonathan Cohler, clarinet/conductor
Rasa Vitkauskaite, piano
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Reviews

“...every once in a while an artist comes along to turn one’s long-held opinion on its head, and Jonathan Cohler is such an artist...While many modern-day clarinetists play and record these works on today’s modern clarinets—and that includes Jonathan Cohler—none of them, except for Cohler, has gone back to Weber’s original manuscripts to perform the pieces as originally written, and that is what makes Cohler’s performances of these oft-recorded works different and special...the results reveal a real freshness and spontaneity of invention that I, for one, have not previously experienced in recordings by David Shifrin, Richard Stoltzman, Sabine Meyer, or even Martin Fröst...Still, Weber’s cleansed scores would make little difference if not vivified by Cohler’s extraordinary musical intelligence and technical wizardry. His sense of style and beauty of tone are ravishing, and his seemingly effortless articulation and execution are riveting...I’m grateful to Jonathan Cohler for opening my mind and ears to a composer whose music I have heretofore undervalued. To those who already appreciate Weber’s music, Cohler’s CD will be self-recommending. It’s even more strongly recommended to those, like me, who have previously sold Weber short.
   —Jerry Dubins, Fanfare Magazine

“If ever a clarinetist exhibited supernatural powers, it would be Jonathan Cohler. I adore Carl Maria von Weber’s music for clarinet and orchestra. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would hear it played like this. Back in the 1990s, I heard Richard Stoltzman play Weber with the New Jersey Symphony under Christopher Seaman. I have a memory of the suavity and elegance of the solo playing, but it was nothing like the full scale assault on the senses Cohler achieves…Cohler’s program ends with a great treat, Franz Liszt’s arrangement for piano and orchestra of Weber’s Polonaise brillante, originally a piano solo. The pianist is Cohler’s regular duo partner, Rasa Vitkauskaite, who plays with great wit and style, while Cohler’s accompaniment brims with warmth and good feeling...The present CD really is a must if you love Weber’s music. Even after you’ve heard it several times, it’s hard to believe anyone can play the clarinet like this.”
   —Dave Saemann, Fanfare Magazine

“This is an imposing release…Cohler’s appropriately dark-hued tone is perfect for the music…there is clearly superb communications between soloist and orchestra. Cohler’s melting legato in the Andante [of the Concertino] complemented by the true pianissimo attained by the Franz Liszt CO strings is simply mesmeric…superb ensemble…The F-Minor Concerto holds an orchestral exposition beautifully shaped by Cohler…Cohler’s tone is perfectly projected and a joy to experience, his scampering virtuosity a thing of wonder…seamless legato as vocal as the come—the combination of horns and clarinet in this Andante is pure magic…Cohler’s legato is in itself a dream, his legato actually going past the vocal into something even more magical…Cohler’s conducting, on the basis of these two overtures, is as fine as his clarinet playing. The primal spaces of nature of Freischütz are beautifully painted in this performance, the horn quartet splendidly balanced, while the faster section blazes with an internal fire. There is just a hint of string portamento that seems perfectly judged, as do the dramatic gestures of the sudden blazing chords coming out of protracted pauses. The overture to Oberon is a similar success, full of contrasts and with some remarkably tender string phrasing and a great feeling of unstoppable energy towards the close…In short, 80 minutes of joy with a booklet that should, if all was good and just, set a new industry standard.”
   —Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine

“The Concertino and the two Concertos have Mozartean grace; they certainly do in Cohler’s hands…Striking attention is paid throughout to differentiation of dynamics. The two Concertos are flighty, tenderly—even searchingly—pensive and caringly delicate. These are very thoughtful readings—listen for example to the affecting tenderness brought to bear in the slow movement of No. 2. It’s a credit to all concerned that these recordings reflect back a carefree liquid innocence uncompromised by the gymnastic fireworks, sparkling kindling and exuberant virtuosity…The romantic element—pre-echoes of Schumann and Berlioz—also comes across with fiery tension and beguiling delicacy in the two overtures…Vitkauskaite’s plangently played Polonaise brillante—as arranged by Liszt—is a spirited and aristocratic jeu d’esprit carried off with style.

The Lithuanian-born Rasa Vitkauskaite, who is the pianist of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, provides a two page note, for the Weber-Liszt Polonaise brillante. Her writing is equally in-depth yet approachably rewarding…Cohler’s Ongaku discs have in common his welcome liner-essays. ‘Essay’ is not too grand a word either.…It runs to no fewer than seventeen purposefully filled and factually concentrated pages. Both Cohler and Vitkauskaite are informative, considered and frank. Their writing complements the full-on recording and the brilliance of the music-making.”
   —Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

“Every generation has its clarinet soloist—Stadler, Baermann, De Peyer, Stoltzman, etc. In our time, that person is Jonathan Cohler. His body of recorded clarinet music is nothing short of breathtaking; all gorgeous soloistic playing. Plus he is a fine conductor. If he was also a composer, we’d be comparing him to Leonard Bernstein.”

    —Michael Drapkin, Author of Symphonic Repertoire for the Bass Clarinet


“Both as conductor and soloist, Cohler achieves the highest level of excellence here. Cohler’s pure tone, perfect intonation, impeccable virtuosity, and brilliant musicality, combined with his consistent dedication to bringing the most recent research to light (28-page booklet included!), make this CD a must-have for all clarinetists and Weber lovers in general!”
    —Luis Rossi, soloist and clarinet maker


“Jonathan Cohler has created a groundbreaking new recording of the music of Carl Maria von Weber which includes the three famous clarinet works with Cohler as soloist..., the Polonaise brillante with piano soloist Rasa Vitkauskaite, as well as two of the composer’s best known opera overtures...all conducted by Cohler himself...unlike any prior recordings or performances of Weber...historic undertaking...Jonathan Cohler and his new disc do once again distinguish themselves for the depth of research, the breadth of inspiration and brilliance of playing, the coherence and passion of the conducting, and the sheer intelligence of the programming and authenticity of the scholarship!”
    —Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold, Fanfare

 
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