Eric Hoeprich, clarinet & basset hornFor the past twenty years Eric Hoeprich has specialised in performing on the historical clarinet. His expertise as a musician, scholar and instrument maker create a unique approach to the clarinet repertoire of the 18th and 19th centuries.

As principal clarinet in Frans Brüggen's Orchestra of the 18th Century he has had numerous opportunities to perform and record as a soloist, and additionally to perform and record with many of the period instrument orchestras in Europe, the United States and Australia. To name a few: Academy of Ancient Music (Hogwood), Orchestre des Champs-Elysées (Herreweghe), London Classical Players (Norrington), Musica Antiqua Köln (Goebel), Philharmonia (McGegan), Canada's Tafelmusik, Anima Eterna (van Immerseel) and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Recent performances have also included solo performances with modern instrument orchestras, including the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra, Prima la Musica (Belgium), Chamber Orchestra of Zilina (Slovakia), among others.

His activities as a chamber musician take him around the world, both with his wind ensembles Nachtmusique and Stadler Trio, and as a guest artist with numerous string quartets and pianists. He has recorded for Philips, Deutsche Grammaphon, EMI, Harmonia Mundi, SONY, Glossa, Erato, Decca, Accent & Teldec.

He is on the faculty of the Conservatoire de Paris and the Royal Conservatory of the Music in The Hague, and is invited to give master classes and courses around the world. He has also published articles in several journals, and as a scholar Hoeprich has been contracted by Yale University Press to write a comprehensive book on the clarinet as part of a new series on the instruments of the orchestra, to be published in 2002. He has also published articles in Early Music (Oxford University Press), Galpin Society Journal, The Clarinet, Tibia and Scherzo, and been interviewed by numerous magazines, newspapers and television & radio stations.

His interest in the early clarinet has led Hoeprich to amass a large collection of 18th and 19th century clarinets. Of particular interest are a clarinet made by the same maker that built the instrument played by Heinrich Bärmann, the clarinettist for whom Weber composed all his great works. He also possesses what is credibly the oldest surviving French clarinet, made in the 1700s by Prudent in Paris. Additionally he owns clarinets by Georg Ottensteiner whose instruments were played by Richard Mühlfeld for whom Brahms wrote his chamber works for clarinet, as well as a reproduction of Anton Stadler's basset clarinet which Hoeprich made himself based on an engraving from a program in Riga where Stadler performed the Mozart clarinet concerto in 1794.


RepertoireEric Hoeprich, clarinet solo

Mozart concerto, K622, for basset clarinet (clarinette basset) (30') Allegro Adagio Rondo. Allegro

Mozart completed this, his last concerto, in October of 1791, and made an entry in his list of his own compositions as a work in A major (not G major, as an early sketch shows), and as being composed for Anton Stadler. Stadler, it seems, took the music and immediately embarked on an extensive tour performing the concerto in Prague, Berlin, Riga, Hamburg, Hannover, among other cities, before returning to his post in Vienna. Luckily, and somewhat astonishingly, a program for a concert where Stadler performed the concerto has been preserved in Riga, and shows that Stadler made a special feature of the concerto being played on a basset clarinet, with its additional low notes. He also shows the unique design of the instrument, which Hoeprich uses in his erformances for this work. The combination of this instrument being made of boxwood and ivory, with fewer keys, and having additional low notes, makes his performance of the concerto a revelatory experience.

Hoeprich's vast experience in performing 18th century clarinet music with ensembles such as Orchestra of the 18th Century (Brüggen) and his wind ensembles Nachtmusique & Stadler Trio over the past 15 years, create a compelling performance.

Weber concertos, op. 73 & 74 (25' each)

The year 1811 was a very special one for clarinet repertoire. It was in this year that Weber composed both of the concertos and his concertino for the German clarinettist Heinrich Baermann. The works were an instant success and continue to form an important part of the clarinet repertoire today. Baermann played on a boxwood clarinet with ten keys made by Griessling & Schlott in Berlin. Hoeprich has in his collection the exact same instrument by the same maker, which might even possibly have belonged to Baermann. To hear Weber played on this instrument is a unique experience. The nuances and colours of an historic clarinet are much more subtle and dramatic in this music than a performance could be on a modern instrument. These qualities together with Hoepriches study of the manuscripts of the concertos and understanding of the style of the period make it an essential experience, bringing the listener close to what Weber would have heard.

Crusell clarinet concerto op. 1, no.1 (25')

In the same year as Weber's concertos for clarinet, the Finnish clarinettist/composer Bernhard Crusell composed his first concerto for clarinet. Although Crusell managed to travel outside of Sweden, where he spent most of his life, his music nonethless shows his relative isolation from the European mainstream. This concerto is a beautiful work, with an excellent part for the orchestra. Hoeprich has visited Sweden to see the original editions of the concerto (the manuscript has disappeared), and also to play on Crusell's clarinet which is preserved in Stockholm's Music Museum. He subsequently made a reproduction of this instrument which he uses in performance of the concerto.

Rossini Introduction, theme and variations for clarinet in Bb

Little is known about this history of this solo work for clarinet and orchestra. There is a handwritten copy preserved in Bergamo, but no autogarph source has been traced, nor is there any record of a first performance. This is a wonderful piece for the clarinet, which practically demands that the instrumentalist become an opera singer. With all the elements of Rossini's music: pathos, humor and soaring virtuosity, this work is immensely popular in the clarinet repertoire today. Hearing it on the clarinet that Rossini would have known- a boxwood and ivory instrument with all of its colours and nuances brings the music alive as never before.


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