A symbolic tale set in the sun-dappled grounds of a mysterious girls' boarding school, Lucile Hadzihalilovic's Innocence is certainly one of the more evocative, confident and also sinister portrayals of female awakening that I've seen. Moths flutter in the glow of unusual lamps that seem to hang, unattached, above well-trodden woodland paths. A forlorn, child-sized coffin stands alone in the dusty surroundings of an empty bedroom. A boat, green with decades of wear, bumps audibly and incessantly against its rickety jetty. This is the world in which these impressionable young girls, categorized by the coloured ribbons they wear, innocently frolic. They gossip, do chores, and play on the vast lawns and in the imposing shadow of a mansion; a shadow that later comes to represent the adulthood towards which they are hurtling, unknowingly, at such a relentless pace.
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.