Brahms’s two sonatas for clarinet and piano, Op 120, composed in 1894, were followed only by the four Serious Songs and a set of organ chorale preludes (some of which may have been written at earlier times). His farewell to chamber music was also his farewell gift to the clarinet. The two works recorded here were preceded by the Clarinet Trio in A minor (Op 114) and the great Clarinet Quintet in B minor (Op 115), and all four masterpieces were inspired by the playing of Richard Mühlfeld, principal clarinettist of the Meiningen Orchestra.
This is Volume 1 in a new series of British Clarinet Sonatas, featuring the exclusive Chandos artist Michael Collins in works by Bax, Bliss, Howells, Ireland, and Stanford. He is accompanied by the pianist Michael McHale. Their ‘Lyrical Clarinet’ disc received much praise, among others from BBC Music which noted: ‘It’s hard to imagine this programme better played than it is here by Collins and McHale… technically impeccable.’
Among the most cherished of all chamber works, the Quintet was written after Brahms visited the ducal court of Meiningen and heard Richard Mühlfeld, whom he considered one of the greatest woodwind players he had ever heard. It is a heartfelt work, and seems to sum up Brahms's life, with a mood of resignation-without-bitterness prevailing. This is one of Brahms's finest achievements.
On this album by clarinetist Julian Bliss, the titular work refers to gumboot dancing, South African miners' dances that during the apartheid era conveyed coded meanings as well as joy in the face of enormous hardship. A look at YouTube will reveal plenty of examples of a form that has been little known outside South Africa. Composer David Bruce's clarinet quintet falls into two parts, an untitled slow "Part One" (track 1) that presumably sets the dark scene of the mine, followed by a second part consisting of five dances.
That Annelien Van Wauwe is rightly one of the most highly demanded young clarinetists is not only shown in her victory at the 2012 ARD Music Competition. On her debut GENUIN CD, recorded with the equally internationally award-winning pianist Lucas Blondeel, the Belgian demonstrates her great skill in a wonderfully united program. In addition to Prokofiev's scintillating D major Sonata, Annelien Van Wauwe presents works with a Jewish background: both in Weinberg's much too rarely played sonata as well as in Prokofiev's ""Hebrew Overture"" her clarinet sings, she sobs and shouts, without ever losing her noble foundation. Absolutely worth listening to!