CD of the Week: Andreas Ottensamer: New Era

With a spirit of collaboration and artistic creativity hearkening back to the Mannheim school, Berlin Philharmonic clarinetist Andreas Ottensamer has compiled an album of classical clarinet pieces showcasing not just his own talents, but those of his colleagues as well.

"It's fascinating to think that Mannheim inspired so many composers and musicians, and it was the players themselves who made it happen - it gave them the chance to do their own thing. Every aspect of composition, playing, teaching and conducting was concentrated there, and audiences went wild, blown away by the kind of rock-star ensemble that they heard." -Andreas Ottensamer

Before Vienna became the music hub of the universe in the second half of the 18th century, the composers at Mannheim Palace in Germany held the center of attention for the first half. These court composers made a deep mark on classical music and were known collectively as the Mannheim School.

It is one of the progenitors of that "school," Johann Stamitz, who wrote among the earliest clarinet concertos, which brought the instrument into a new popular spotlight. On a trip to the German palace in 1778, the 22-year-old Mozart wrote to his father:

“If only we had clarinets in the orchestra! You wouldn’t believe what marvelous effects flutes, oboes, and clarinets produce in a symphony.”

Part of the innovation of the Mannheim School was composers' and performers' freedom to interpret and build upon the works of others. In this spirit, the album includes arrangements by Ottensamer's colleagues, some of whom then play on those tracks. 

This album is a tribute to the Mannheim School, bringing a fresh approach to works by its innovative composers.

Watch a trailer for New Era:

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit ArkivMusic.