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<<<  <<  -- 3 --  Howard Smith    LIFTING THE SPIRITS


The Brahms Clarinet Sonatas Op 120 Nos 1 and 2 were written in 1894 for the clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld, inspired by Mühlfeld's spirited interpretations.

Einar Jóhannesson, soloist in both sonatas and Schumann's Fantasiestücke, Op 73 [listen -- track 10, 2:30-3:41], is principal clarinetist with the Iceland Symphony, the Reykjavik Chamber Orchestra and founding member of the Reykjavik Wind Quintet. At times the piano acoustic is a tad over-'clangy'. However one can hardly gainsay the merits of this duo. Jóhannesson displays unfailing fluency in this 'romantic' repertory, though I would have preferred a somewhat wider dynamic compass, especially in more subdued passages. For his part pianist Berkofsky tailors the accompaniments with demonstrable taste and empathy.

Front runners in all three works are the inspired American duo; clarinettist David Shifrin with accompanist Carol Rosenberger (on Delos CDs). The Delos team pays tribute to Brahms and Schumann by recreating Clara Schumann's musical soirée (1894) at which sixty-one-year-old Brahms and dedicatee Richard Mühlfeld performed the two Clarinet Sonatas Op 120, and Clara Schumann and Mühlfeld played Robert Schumann's Fantasiestücke.

To complement appealing versions of the two sonatas, Naxos' clarinettist, Hungarian Kálmán Berkes includes transcriptions of Brahms' single movement Sonatensatz in C minor (violin, 1853) and twin Lieder, Op 91 (1894) -- Gestilltes Sehnsucht ('Stilled Longing') and Geistliches Wiegenlied ('Spiritual Lullaby'). Naxos pianist Jeno Jando is Berkes' duo partner.

The question is -- will you choose to add to Klaus Heymann's considerable Naxos coffers, or offer a mite to boost the Kitezh kitty [listen -- track 6, 3:29-4:42] ? Remember the latter option comes with an exuberant Choral Fantasy -- ideal stuff for lifting the spirits.

Copyright © 25 June 2007 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


Benefit for Kitezh - Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann

CF-887 Stereo NEW RELEASE 73'05" 2007 The Cristofori Foundation

Martin Berkofsky, piano; Globalis Symphony Orchestra; Konstantin Krimets, conductor; Chorus of the Music College of the Moscow Conservatory; Leonid Pavlov, director; Einar Jóhannesson, clarinet

Spoken introduction at Tchaikovsky Hall; Beethoven: Fantasia for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra in C minor (Adagio - Finale); Brahms: Clarinet Sonata in F minor Op 120 No 1 (Allegro appassionato; Andante un poco adagio; Allegretto grazioso; Vivace); Brahms: Clarinet Sonata In E flat Op 120 No 2 (Allegro amabile; Allegro, molto appassionato; Andante con moto - Allegro); Schumann: Fantasiestücke Op 73 (Zart und mit Ausdruck; Lebhaft, Leicht; Rasch und mit Feuer)




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