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Track(s) taken from CDS44331/42

Clarinet Sonata in E flat major, Op 120 No 2

composer
Summer 1894; first performed by Richard Mühlfeld and Brahms in Berchtesgaden, Meiningen, on 19 September 1894; also for viola and piano

Dame Thea King (clarinet), Clifford Benson (piano)
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: 20 minutes 41 seconds

Cover artwork: Postcard depicting Brahms composing his Symphony No 1 (c1900). Austrian School, 20th century
Private Collection / Archives Charmet / Bridgeman Art Library, London
 
1
Allegro amabile  [8'05]
2
3

Reviews

'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!' (ClassicalSource.com)
This music is less overtly determined than its companion, but no less terse in fact. The main theme stretches itself comfortably and does not eschew repetition like the one in the F minor sonata; it is also more persistent in the movement as a whole, especially its opening phrase. The development uses quick arpeggiated triplets that may remind the ear of Beethoven’s first Rasumovsky Quartet or of his Triple Concerto (the first movement in each) – Brahms was in any case so fond of this sort of locomotion that it by now had become purely characteristic of himself.

The other two movements are markedly contrasted with each other. The scherzo, Allegro appassionato, is in E flat minor and begins in a flowing vein that at first seems to follow easily what has gone before – but it becomes intense and full of measured energy, and there is a trio in B major, one of Brahms’s most splendid melodies. In the third movement, Andante con moto, he relaxes into five variations and coda on a beautiful theme that shows no inclination to activity until a stormy variation interrupts in E flat minor. But the sun soon comes out again, and the sonata ends happily, as it began.

from notes by Robert Simpson © 1986

Moins ouvertement déterminée que la première sonate, cette musique est, en réalité, tout aussi laconique. Le thème principal s’éploie avec aise sans esquiver la répétition comme la sonate en fa mineur; il est également davatage persistant dans le mouvement global, notamment à travers sa phrase d’ouverture. Le développement use de rapides triolets arpégés qui peuvent évoquer à l’oreille les premiers mouvements du Quatuor no1 «Rassoumovsky» ou du Triple Concerto de Beethoven – quoi qu’il en soit, ce type de «locomotion», dont Brahms se montre si friand, est devenu purement et simplement l’un de ses traits caractéristiques.

Les deux autres mouvements présentent de forts contrastes. Le scherzo, Allegro appassionato, en mi bémol mineur, s’ouvre sur une veine fluide, a priori aisément conforme à ce qui précède – mais bientôt, il devient intense, tout en énergie contenue, avant un trio en si majeur, l’une des plus splendides mélodies de Brahms. Dans le troisième mouvement, Andante con moto, le compositeur se détend à travers cinq variations et une coda sur un thème magnifique, dépourvu de toute inclination pour une quelconque activité jusqu’à ce qu’une variation tempétueuse ne vienne l’interrompre en mi bémol mineur. Mais le soleil réapparaît bientôt et la sonate s’achève comme elle avait commencé, dans le bonheur.

extrait des notes rédigées par Robert Simpson © 1986
Français: Hypérion

Dieses Werk hat nicht einen so offensichtlich bestimmten Charakter wie sein Gegenstück, ist aber trotzdem nicht weniger knapp angelegt. Das Hauptthema kann sich genüsslich ausdehnen und muss auch nicht, wie sein Pendant in der f-Moll Sonate, auf eine Wiederholung verzichten; zudem nimmt es in dem Satz eine beharrlichere Rolle ein, insbesondere in der Anfangsphrase. In der Durchführung kommen schnelle, arpeggierte Triolen zum Einsatz, die möglicherweise an Beethovens erstes Rasumovsky-Quartett oder an sein Tripelkonzert (jeweils den ersten Satz) erinnern – wie dem auch sei, Brahms mochte jedenfalls dieses fortbewegende Moment so sehr, dass er sich dieses Stilmittel bereits zu eigen gemacht hatte.

Die anderen beiden Sätze sind recht gegensätzlich angelegt. Das Scherzo, Allegro appassionato, steht in es-Moll, beginnt recht fließend und scheint an das Vorhergegangene direkt anzuschließen, jedoch nimmt es an Intensität zu und entwickelt eine gemessene Energie. In dem Trio in H-Dur ist eine der schönsten Brahmsschen Melodien zu hören. Im dritten Satz, Andante con moto, lässt die Intensität etwas nach und es erklingen fünf Variationen mit Coda über ein wunderschönes Thema, das zwar zunächst nicht auf Lebhaftigkeit schließen lässt, dann aber von einer stürmische Variation in es-Moll unterbrochen wird. Bald darauf kommt aber die Sonne wieder heraus und die Sonate endet so heiter wie sie begonnen hatte.

aus dem Begleittext von Robert Simpson © 1986
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

Other albums featuring this work

Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas
CDH55158Archive Service; also available on CDS44331/42
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