Richard Strauss Duett-Concertino

Release date: August 2019

SCO, Robin Ticciati, Peter Whelan bassoon, Alec Frank- Gemmill horn, Maximiliano Martin clarinet, SCO Wind Soloists LINN RECORDS 

Robin Ticciati conducts the all-Strauss programme showcasing Frank-Gemmill’s extraordinary horn playing, as well as the skills of SCO section principals Maximiliano Martín (clarinet) and Peter Whelan (bassoon) in the Duett-Concertino. 

BBC Music Magazine 5*

This is a perfect Strauss sequence, highlighting soloists in that true army of generals, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Can we get the elephant in the room out first, though? It’s one concerto short. I’d be equally happy with Strauss’s second one for horn, or the best oboe concerto in the repertoire. And what’s for certain is that Alec Frank-Gemmill would do the former supreme justice. It’s hard to praise too highly his partnership with colleagues in the much more straightforward early work, where the opening flourish finds tone and engineering in vivid harmony. Normally in the young Strauss’s rather simple orchestration, you don’t notice the discreet woodwind frills, but they all register here, especially the most delicate ones from the two flutes in the finale. Ticciati’s elegant touch stops the ensembles from ever sounding too square. Subtle beauties abound in the Duett-Concertino — once a hearthside Cinderella, now admitted to the ball in an abundance of fine recordings. None is better than this one; clarinettist Maximiliano Martin plays the fairy-tale princess with due limpidity and spirit, but it’s Peter Whelan’s bassoon beast/bear who steals the show in his charismatic cantilenas without unbalancing the ethereal whole, reminding us that so many of Strauss’s non-vocal works are operas for orchestra. The rest of the wind get their characterful chance, too, in the sweet and simple Serenade. Only quibble would be over the portrait of Strauss, not at the age that could be applied to any of these works at either end of a distinguished lifetime.

BBC Record Review

Music by Richard Strauss, from my Record of the Week. It’s from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Robin Ticciati. Playing three pieces of early Strauss. A deliciously playful account of the Duett Concertino in which clarinettist Maximiliano Martín is the beauty to bassoonist Peter Whelan’s beast. One of the finest accounts I’ve heard.

The Scotsman 4*

The SCO often throws its own constituent talent into the limelight; in this case a threesome plucked from its wind principals – clarinettist Maximiliano Martin, bassoonist Peter Whelan and chief horn Alec Frank-Gemmill – who took solo roles in a programme engineered to capitalise on their strengths.

Martin and Whelan were first up in Richard Strauss’ Duet Concertino, giving a performance, under Robin Ticciati, that oozed wit, charisma and a fair bit of play-acting. The twin protagonists engaged in a narrative expressed in instrumental rather than human terms, which our duo conveyed as much through suggestive bodily movement and expression as through their effortless unravelling of Strauss’ beguiling and affectionate music.