The virtuosic ease of Dieter Klöcker’s clarinet playing is legendary. The imaginativeness and seeming effortlessness with which this tireless researcher mastered even the most difficult passages remain unforgettable. The thrilling arrangements based on Haydn’s string quartets penned by Vincent Gambaro a good two hundred years ago seem to have been made with him in mind. These works mostly featuring the clarinet in a solo role and meeting the highest structural standards take on a concertante character that even after a quarter of a century has lost nothing of its freshness and verve.
Even on a first hearing the listener immediately recognizes the complete freedom with which Gambaro goes to work. His movement combinations do not at all follow Haydn’s prescriptions. Gambaro instead samples from quartet compositions from all of Haydn’s compositional periods and joins together individual movements to form new cycles. In the second quartet, for instance, we find parts from Haydn’s very early op. 9 as well as movements from his op. 71 composed more than twenty years later. A surprising side effect: the direct juxtaposition of early and riper works confirms the extraordinary quality distinguishing Haydn’s compositions from the very start.
Even though the clarinet very much occupies the foreground in Gambaro’s arrangements, the three strings in no way merely play supporting roles. Already in the opening movement of the first quartet, the famous “Sunrise Quartet,” Kurt Guntner keeps all his fingers busy. The interplay of the violin and clarinet continues to display the highest chamber quality even in the arrangement. And of course with Helmut Nicolai and Helmar Stiehler two first-class team players do their part, taking us beyond the beaten paths for pleasure-filled musical experiences.
This recording is a document and a very special tribute to Dieter Klöcker, without whose archeological sleuthing many treasures, including the present pieces, would still lie slumbering undiscovered in the archives.