The two things I like best about this release are 1) Sharon Kam’s playing, and 2) the program.
The playing — Sharon Kam is a world-class performer. Listening to her play is always a joy. Her clarinet has a rich, dark tone that’s never muddy in the lower register.
And her upper register is equally fine, with a clear, rounded sound. Her technique is superb. But Kam’s more than a technical performer — she’s a musical one.
The way she shapes phrases gives insight into the music. Her interpretation of dynamics is both nuanced and effective.
The program — this release presents the clarinet in three roles. It’s the featured instrument in a concerto, part of a small chamber ensemble, and a solo instrument. And all three works are by the same composer, Paul Hindemith.
Hindemith wrote his 1947 Clarinet Concerto for Benny Goodman. In the original recording, Goodman leans into the jazz elements of the score. Kam smooths them out, bringing the concerto more firmly into the classical realm. It’s an interpretation that works.
It’s an interesting program. It starts with the concerto, then the quartet, and finally the solo sonata. Each time another layer is stripped away. Each time Hindemith has a different use of the clarinet.
Paul Hindemith: Clarinet Concerto; Clarinet Quartet; Sonata for Clarinet
Sharon Kam, clarinet
Antje Weithaas, violin; Julian Steckel, cello; Enrico Pace, piano
Frankfurt Radio Symphony; Daniel Cohen, conductor