1. Brahms: 3 Sonatas / Collins, Hough - ArkivMusic

Brahms: 3 Sonatas / Collins, Hough

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Friends of long standing as well as regular partners in chamber music, Michael Collins and Stephen Hough bring their combined musical insights and expertise to...

Friends of long standing as well as regular partners in chamber music, Michael Collins and Stephen Hough bring their combined musical insights and expertise to bear on Johannes Brahms’s sonatas for clarinet and piano. Together with the composer’s trio for clarinet, cello and piano and clarinet quintet, the sonatas are among the most treasured works in the repertoire of the instrument – but it is partly down to good luck that we have them at all. When Brahms in 1891 heard the clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld, principal clarinet of the Meiningen Court Orchestra, he had already announced his retirement. He was enraptured by Mühlfeld’s playing and its vocal qualities, however, and made a ‘comeback’: during the following couple of years he composed all four of his clarinet works. These were written especially for Mühlfeld, whose spirit does seem to pervade the two sonatas – we hear an unusually sunny and lyrical Brahms, with plenty of opportunity to sing for both instruments. When the sonatas were published, they appeared with alternative viola parts to replace the clarinet, and soon violin versions prepared by the composer were also brought out. For the opening work on the disc, Michael Collins has therefore taken a leaf out of Brahms’s book, by adapting the composer’s Violin Sonata No. 2, another late work. The amount of adaptation needed is small: a lot of the violin writing fits the clarinet well, and the sonata share much of the songlike quality of the two ‘real’ clarinet sonatas.

REVIEW:

Clarinetist Michael Collins must have lived with the two Op. 120 sonatas for all his professional career. That seems abundantly clear from his superb playing in both of those sonatas. His Brahmsian experience is also evidenced by his highly persuasive and idiomatic adaptation of Op 110. As for Stephen Hough, his Brahms credentials are well known, not least for his splendid recordings of the piano concertos (review) and, more recently, of the late piano pieces (review). It was a great idea to bring these two fine musicians together for this project and the idea has paid off handsomely.

The production values are high. The recorded balance is ideal and the instruments are reproduced truthfully. I listened to the stereo layer of this SACD and was very satisfied with the results. As I’ve already indicated, Stephen Johnson’s essay is excellent.

This is a disc which will grace any Brahms collection.

-- MusicWeb International




Product Description:


  • Release Date: December 03, 2021


  • UPC: 7318599925578


  • Catalog Number: BIS-2557


  • Label: BIS


  • Number of Discs: 1


  • Period: Romantic


  • Composer: Johannes Brahms


  • Performer: Michael Collins, Stephen Hough



Works:


  1. Sonata for Clarinet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100

    Composer: Johannes Brahms

    Performer: Michael Collins (Clarinet), Stephen Hough (Piano)


  2. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in F Minor, Op. 120, No. 1

    Composer: Johannes Brahms

    Performer: Michael Collins (Clarinet), Stephen Hough (Piano)


  3. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in E-Flat Major, Op. 120, No. 2

    Composer: Johannes Brahms

    Performer: Michael Collins (Clarinet), Stephen Hough (Piano)