One can reach for superlatives like "a supernova in the clarinet heavens" (Fono Forum) or, in more sober mood, state the obvious such as "openness, curiosity, versatility and an unpretentious collegiality" (FAZ), but at the end of the day, Sharon Kam's aura is difficult to describe, and anyone who hears her recordings or experiences a live performance by her will know well why that is. The way she brings the music to life, becoming one with her instrument and the sounds it makes, is a force which is very direct and elementary in its persuasion.
That is why we are all waiting with bated breath for Sharon Kam's new recording; a departure from the great Romantic repertoire and charming miniatures and a sort of return to the classical "middle ground". Mozart is at the heart of her current album programme: the Clarinet Concerto and the Quintet, both works composed for his friend, the clarinettist Anton Stadler. When Stadler premiered the K581 Quintet in Vienna, he introduced the new basset clarinet, an instrument with a tonal range four semitones lower than a standard clarinet. The K622 Clarinet Concerto is Mozart's last solo concerto and was also premiered by Stadler, this time in Prague.
These pieces of music represent mature masterworks full of inspiration, and the concerto in particular is one of the most popular works for the clarinet. Sharon Kam has now recorded the concerto on a basset clarinet, conducting the Haydn Philharmonic Orchestra; this is coupled with the quintet featuring an eminent quartet of musicians comprising Isabelle van Keulen and Ulrike-Anima Mathé (violins), Volker Jacobsen (viola) and Gustav Rivinius (cello).
It is the stated aim of these musicians to give a well-known piece of music a fresh and new performance, and so expectations will understandably be high – the reviews should make for exciting reading.