Aaron Copland – Clarinet Concerto – Kalman Bloch, Clarinet – L.A. Philharmonic – Alfred Wallenstein, cond. December 2, 1951 – The Standard Hour – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Mid-century Americana this weekend. The clarinet Concerto of Aaron Copland as performed in this broadcast by Principle Clarinetist Kalman Bloch with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Alfred Wallenstein recorded in Ventura California on December 2, 1951.
Aaron Copland’s lyrical and jazz-influenced Clarinet Concerto was commissioned by the legendary swing musician Benny Goodman. The piece’s structure and instrumentation are far from conventional. It is written in two movements, rather than the traditional three-movement concerto form.The first movement, marked “Slowly and expressively,” uses the clarinet’s lyrical and expressive capabilities, showcasing the way the instrument can blend with the strings in a very introspective way.The virtuosity that audiences expect from a piece called a Concerto doesn’t appear until the cadenza that links the two movements. Goodman played the premiere of the Concerto in 1950, a little over two years after Copland had begun writing it, in a radio broadcast with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Copland, who was pleased to write for Goodman and admitted he never would have thought of writing a clarinet concerto had it not been for the commission, did not consult with Goodman during the work’s composition. In the end, Goodman made some adjustments to the score, changing certain passages to make them slightly easier to play.
This, I think is a first performance by the Philharmonic, but I can’t substantiate that at present.
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