Day 328: Viola Sonatas, Piano Trio in A

BrahmsCD22There’s something about the first composition (Sonata for Viola & Piano in F minor Op. 120 No. 1) that drew me in from the opening notes.

It still sounds like two instruments – piano and viola – are playing different pieces of music.

But, at least the music they’re playing is compelling.

What I’m listening to today:

Sonata for Viola & Piano in F minor Op. 120 No. 1

All four movements of this sonata are well done. I even detected a bit of melody amidst all the notes.

I thought Movement III (“Allegretto grazioso”) was good. But Movement IV (“Vivace”) kicked my keister.

Op. 120 No. 1 is terrific.

Here’s an article about it publishing on the LA Philharmonic web site. It indicates that this sonata was composed in 1891. If that’s true, Brahms was 58.

Sonata for Viola & Piano in E flat Op. 120 No. 2

This sonata is also quite good. The piano is well recorded. As is the viola. Very crisp. But organic. Real sounding.

My favorite of the three movements is Continue reading

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.