Day 361: Songs and Duets III

BrahmsCD55More songs and duets.

Another pairing of a lower-range female vocalist with an upper-range female vocalist. Another round of songs that could be played at a funeral and no one would bat an eye.

There are 19 tracks on today’s CD with a total running time of just under 44 minutes.

This time, however, I can list the four sections under which the songs fall.

The Compositions:

Op. 20 (3 tracks)

Op. 61 (4 tracks)

from Op. 66 (4 tracks)

Romanzen und Lieder Op. 84 (8 tracks)

The Performers:

Letizia Scherrer soprano

Franziska Gottwald alto

Ferenc Bognar piano

I’ve heard some (perhaps all) of these compositions before.

For example, Track 4 (“Die Schwestern”). It’s a bouncy song with a nice melody and an enjoyable piano score. I’ve heard it before, perhaps within the last few days. Yesterday? It has a folk-song jauntiness to it that’s memorable.

Once again, my ears are drawn to the soprano. I prefer that soaring vocal range. However, the two vocal ranges together cancel each other out to create a sound that grates on me.

I wonder if tomorrow’s CD is Duets and Songs IV.

Gosh, I hope not.

Day 321: Clarinet Trio, Clarinet Quintet

BrahmsCD15A clarinet quintet, eh?

I had no idea such a thing existed.

But, apparently, it does.

Because here it is on today’s Brahms CD, which is a clarinetist’s dream come true.

There are two compositions on Brahms CD 15:

Clarinet Trio in A minor Op. 114

Performed by:

Karl Leister clarinet
Wolfgang Boettcher cello
Ferenc Bognar piano

According to its entry on Wikipedia:

The Trio for clarinet, cello and piano in A minor, Op. 114, was one of four chamber works featuring clarinet composed by Johannes Brahms in rapid succession after emerging from retirement toward the end of his life.

It is one of a small number of compositions for clarinet, cello and piano, and one of the very few to have entered the standard repertoire. Eusebius Mandyczewski, a scholar and friend of Brahms, wrote of the trio that “It is as though the instruments were in love with each other.”

Brahms was inspired to compose these works by the playing of clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld.

Brahms was 58 when he composed this trio in the summer of 1891.

Clarinet Quintet in B minor Op. 115

Performed by:

Karl Leister clarinet
Brandis Quaratett
Thomas Brandis, Peter Brem violins
Wilfried Strehle viola
Wolfgang Boettcher cello

According to its entry on Wiki:

Johannes Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115 was written in 1891 for the clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld.

The piece is known for its autumnal mood. It consists of a clarinet in A with a string quartet and has a duration of approximately thirty-five minutes.

At the time Brahms started composing his Clarinet Quintet, only a few works had been composed for this type of ensemble and even now there are not many. Examples include those by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Anton Reicha, Carl Maria von Weber, Franz Krommer, Alexander Glazunov, Heinrich Baermann, and Thomas Täglichsbeck. Brahms modeled his composition after Mozart’s.

Brahms was 58 when he composed this clarinet quintet.

Day 318: Clarinet Sonatas

BrahmsCD12Clarinet sonatas?

One of the things I like about Brahms is that he writes for instruments that don’t normally get the spotlight.

Like today’s compositions.

I had no idea a Classical composer wrote for clarinet.

The clarinet is one of my favorite instruments, along with French horn, oboe, and bassoon. Oh, and piano.

I guess the only instruments I don’t like are the brass ones – except for the aforementioned French horn.

Okay. Let’s face it. I don’t know what I like and don’t like. I only know it when I hear it.

I liked what I heard today. As music I’d listen to again, I’m not so sure I liked it that much. But as pieces for the clarinet I can absolutely understand their importance and value.

Today’s clarinet sonatas were performed by:

Karl Leister clarinet
Ferenc Bognar piano

The compositions are:

Clarinet Sonata in F minor Op. 120 No. 1

Clarinet Sonata in E flat Op. 120 No. 2

According to their entry on Wikipedia:

The Clarinet Sonatas, Op. 120, Nos. 1 and 2 are a pair of works written for clarinet and piano by the Romantic composer Johannes Brahms. They were written in 1894 and are dedicated to the clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld. The sonatas stem from a period in Brahms’s life where he “discovered” the beauty of the sound and color of the clarinet. The form of the clarinet sonata was largely undeveloped until after the completion of these sonatas, after which the combination of clarinet and piano was more readily used in composers’ new works. These were the last chamber pieces Brahms wrote before his death and are considered two of the great masterpieces in the clarinet repertoire. Brahms also produced an oft-performed transcription of these works for viola with alterations to better suit the instrument.

Brahms was 61 when he wrote these pieces for the clarinet.