BBC Music Magazine

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


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

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