David Shifrin, clarinet

Record of the Year’ Award, Stereo Review

Ovation: ‘Recording of Distinction. Superb recording of two great works… Like hearing them for the first time… A gem. Not to be missed.”

Mozart’s original versions – played on an extended-range clarinet

This is the one that made David Shifrin famous and became a perennial best-seller for Delos. These two masterpieces for clarinet have entered contemporary life through films: A melody from the Concerto soared through “Out of Africa,” while the Quintet compelled Salieri to acknowledge Mozart’s genius in “Amadeus.” Shifrin, Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, is one of the world’s great clarinetists. “If there is a bel canto school of clarinet playing, Shifrin is surely its finest exponent,” wrote the Los Angeles Times. This recording offers something more than its lyrical performances and superb recorded sound. You’ll notice that the cover shows Shifrin with two clarinets. One of them is a specially elongated instrument which allows him to perform both works with their original melodic contours. Because the clarinet has been shortened and simplified during the nearly two centuries since Mozart’s death, modern instruments are not capable of reaching the low notes in the original works. When musicians play the Concerto and Quintet on the modern clarinet today, parts of whole phrases are transposed an octave higher. Much of the clarinet voice in the Concerto, for example, suffers from breaks in mid-phrase. So Shifrin set out to remedy this problem by designing an instrument that would accomodate the lower register of the Concerto. The result: an extended-range clarinet built for him by the distinguished wind-instrument maker, Leonard Gullotta. Shifrin attaches a unique lower joint, incorporating a system of alternating keys for the little fingers, to the top half of his regular clarinet. Though this adds about eight inches and five pounds to the instrument, and in the soloist’s words, ‘looks like an awful lot of hardware,’ the music ‘takes on a more bittersweet quality, deeper and fuller.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622
Gerard Schwarz, conductor, Mostly Mozart Orchestra

Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581
Chamber Music Northwest