Con­tinue the jour­ney…

We sug­gest other works to ex­plore af­ter Brahms’s Clar­inet Quin­tet

BBC Music Magazine - - Building A Library -

As well as the Clar­inet Quin­tet, Brahms’s Richard Mühlfeldin­spired late flour­ish brought two Clar­inet Sonatas in F mi­nor and E flat ma­jor and a Trio for Clar­inet,

Cello and Pi­ano. The Trio has the same au­tum­nal feel as the Quin­tet though is per­haps even a lit­tle more care­worn, its gen­eral melan­cholic flow in­ter­rupted by the oc­ca­sional tetchy outburst. (Fröst, Pön­ti­nen, Thedéen; BIS BISSACD135­3)

No clar­inet quin­tet col­lec­tion would be com­plete with­out Mozart’s ex­quis­ite mas­ter­piece, writ­ten in 1789 for the vi­ur­tu­oso An­ton Stadler for whom he also com­posed his fa­mous Clar­inet Con­certo. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween clar­inet and strings is more that of a soloist and sup­port­ing cast than five voices in con­ver­sa­tion, but the lat­ter are none­the­less given their mo­ments to shine. (Ju­lian Bliss, Car­ducci String Quar­tet; Signum SIGCD552)

When, in 1895, the com­poser Stan­ford sug­gested that no one would be able to write a clar­inet quin­tet with­out cling­ing tena­ciously to the model of Brahms’s re­cent ex­am­ple, his pupil Sa­muel Co­leridge-tay­lor took up the chal­lenge. In con­trast to the au­tumn of Brahms, Co­leridge-tay­lor’s

Clar­inet Quin­tet in F sharp mi­nor has a touch of spring about it, par­tic­u­larly in the sprightly Al­le­gro leg­giero third move­ment. The in­flu­ence of Dvoˇrák, a com­poser whom Co­leridge-tay­lor ad­mired, is not hard to de­tect. (Nash En­sem­ble; Hype­r­ion CDA67590)

Reger’s serene Clar­inet Quin­tet, com­pleted just days be­fore his death in 1916, de­serves to be bet­ter known. Like both Mozart and Brahms be­fore him, the Ger­man rounds off his quin­tet with a set of vari­a­tions, though the high­light of the work is ar­guably the highly chro­matic, deeply sigh­ing

Largo that pre­cedes it. Reger places the clar­inet deep within the tex­ture of the strings – when it does en­joy the melodic line, it is of­ten shared with an­other in­stru­ment. (Karl Leis­ter, Vogler Quar­tet; Nim­bus NI5644)

Com­posed in 1908, Henri Marteau’s Clar­inet Quin­tet tip­toes its way gin­gerly through its open­ing bars, and there’s a gen­eral skit­tish­ness to much of the first two move­ments. By the An­dante sostenuto third move­ment, the clar­inet has found its lyri­cal voice… only for the cat on a hot tin roof to reap­pear once again in the Fi­nale. (Klaus Hampl, Quar­tetto di Roma; Naxos 8.551208)

Like Brahms, Reger rounds o his quin­tet with a set of vari­a­tions

Scores for thought: Max Reger stud­ies in the com­pany of wife Elsa

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