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Hyperion Records

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Postcard depicting Brahms composing his Symphony No 1 (c1900). Austrian School, 20th century
Private Collection / Archives Charmet / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDS44331/42
Recording details: September 1984
St Barnabas's Church, North Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Mike Clements
Release date: April 1987
Total duration: 21 minutes 45 seconds

'The pick of this crop has to be Brahms's Complete Chamber Music from Hyperion. Spanning more than two decades, this box contains the finest, mainly British, performances, some very recent … Brahms's two dozen chamber works are among his greatest achievements, and yield little or nothing in quality to the better known output of Mozart and Beethoven. This box contains much buried treasure' (The Mail on Sunday)

'Immerse yourself in this set of 12 CDs of Brahms's chamber music … in the last 25 years, Hyperion has managed to persuade some of the finest of chamber musicians to reveal their affection for Brahms in recordings of remarkably consistent quality … altogether life affirming music in life enhancing performances: surely one of the best buys of the year?' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This magnificent 12-CD collection … Marc-André Hamelin and the Leopold String Trio find the right gypsy touch in the First Piano Quartet … the Florestan Trio is movingly intense in the piano trios … Lawrence Power's playing of the viola alternative to the clarinet sonatas is magical. And there's much more! A superb bargain' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Stellar artists, fine sound, splendid presentation. Superb!' (

Clarinet Sonata in F minor, Op 120 No 1
Summer 1894; first performed by Richard Mühlfeld and Brahms in Berchtesgaden, Meiningen, on 19 September 1894; also for viola and piano

Vivace  [5'02]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The concentration of thought is clear at the outset in the avoidance of repetition; the clarinet continues rather than echoes or counterstates the theme first given out by the piano, and the whole movement proceeds in this way with dignified, serious energy. Nothing is wasted, and the first movement development is a model of perfectly graded but surprisingly swift growth. The moment of reprise is unobtrusive, and the whole recapitulation is condensed to make way for a gentler, more expansive coda, Sostenuto ed espressivo.

Although the slow second movement in A flat gives the impression of dreamy ease, it is also economical, and its return to the main theme through a foreign key characteristically saves space as it suggests leisure (one thinks of the slow movement of the Piano Concerto No 2). With the lyrical Allegretto grazioso we stay in A flat, and the F minor of the trio, with its syncopated accompaniment, is the last extended use of the tonic minor in the whole work.

The exuberant finale, Vivace, is in F major and its second subject looks like being one of those gloriously expansive Brahmsian themes in swinging triplets. But with the economy typical of this work, Brahms does not allow it to spread and it is soon invaded by terser action. At the end we feel that, although the sonata has been officially in F minor (Beethoven’s ‘barbarous’ key), it has been composed more with pleasure than pain.

from notes by Robert Simpson © 1986

Other albums featuring this work
'Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas' (CDH55158)
Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDH55158  Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service; also available on CDS44331/42  
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