Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Sonatas for Clarinet and Piano, Op 120, #1 in f [22.49] and #2 in Eb [21.34] (1894)
Robert SCHUMANN (1810 - 1858)

Fantasiestücke (3) for clarinet and piano, Op 73 (1849) [11.19]
David Shifrin, clarinet; Carol Rosenberger, Bösendorfer piano
Notes in English
Recorded in Santa Ana High School Auditorium, California, USA, May 1984
DELOS D/CD 3025 [56.01]

Comparison recordings (Brahms):

Leopold Wlach, clarinet; Jörg Demus, piano. Westminster WL 5236 [MVCW19021]

Johnathan Cohler, clarinet; Judith Gordon and Randall Hodgkinson, piano BBC Classical magazine CD Vol. III #2 [Ongaku Records 024-101/102]

Béla Kovács, clarinet; Ferenc Rados, Bösendorfer piano [Hungaroton HCD 12796]

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When one hears of an enterprise named Delos after the Greek isle which gave birth to Apollo and operated by one Amelia S. Haygood one is naturally led to think of England in 1895 and a Victorian mansion with proper but barefoot maidens dressed in mountains of crêpe de Chine disporting on the lawn to strains of Hubert Parry. But actually this is a record company in Chatsworth, California. (My grandfatherís last mistress retired on his death to Chatsworth and when I last visited her in the company of my mother the town had not yet solved the mud or dust problems. I suspect all the streets have long since been paved and the semi-rural neighbourhood in which she lived is now likely all business parks, shopping malls, and forests of high rise condominiums.)

Still, dramatic gestures have not been completely forsaken. The cover of this CD would lead you to believe (falsely) that it was recorded in the very house in which used to live Clara Wieck Schumann and where, on November 13, 1894, this very program was performed by the greatest artists then living. What we have here is a performance by some of the greatest artists currently living. Carol Rosenberger has for at least 40 years been producing masterful recordings of thorny modern music perfectly in style, richly intoned; it is a delight to hear her playing so well in the Viennese style and so exactly achieving the chime-like sound of late Brahms. Clarinettist Shifrin has won every award except the Nobel Prize and is currently director of Chamber Music at Lincoln Center. He ranks among the premier clarinet virtuosi of this time.

The all time greatest recording of this work is with Wlach and Demus, recorded monophonically by Westminster in Vienna in 1953. Those of you who were very quick might have got the Japanese HMV CD release which appeared and disappeared in 1999. Wlach is in perfect control of his instrument, and Demus is the perfect partner in this essay in Viennese style. They achieve thrilling drama and produce a great variety of tone, but more than that they can achieve Viennese lilt, lightness and grace when called for. The clarinet is an unstable instrument; when attempting to play a mid-tone loudly the tone starts to become shrill, and can abruptly go into a squeak. The trick is to control the degree of edge to obtain dramatic variety of tone without losing control and producing an unpleasant noise. Wlach shows himself to be the perfect master of his instrument.

Cohler and Kovacs (in that order) are nearly a match to Wlach in skill and give us performances of great power and drama. They come up the tiniest bit short only in direct comparison during passages which call for lightness and grace. Shifrin comes in fourth in this contest. In just a few phrases his tone moves a little close to the edge, and one senses heís not completely confident in holding on to it. Rosenberger plays extremely well, but then so do the other accompanists.

So, if you are a subscriber to BBC Classical Magazine and have the Cohler/Gordon/Hodgkinson performances in your collection you really need look no further. If you missed the Westminster issue on HMV, donít wait for DG to reissue it; the man in charge of the reissues specifically stated he would not dig into the Vienna chamber music recordings, and since heís the same man who gave us the "Great Pianists" series, even at the best all we can expect is a snip of this and a snip of that. Heís going to tell us what bits we like and what bits weíll get, and he doesnít believe in musical completeness. Good luck finding it used, and if you do donít be surprised to be asked to pay over £20. The Kovacs recording is at the moment out of print, although that can change quickly. Which leaves this Shifrin/Rosenberger recording, a very satisfactory and enjoyable version, and you get the extra of the Schumann works.

This recording would be an excellent gift for a person who doesnít think he or she likes chamber music.

The Brahms works are also recorded in the alternate version for viola and piano.

Paul Shoemaker


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FREE SOUND SAMPLES
(minimum 30 secs)

Clarinet Sonata in E flat Major op.120 no.2:
Allegro amabile

Allegro Appassionato

Andante con moto. Allegro

Fantasiestucke op.73:
Zart und mit Ausdruck

Lebhaft, leicht

Rasch und mit Feuer

Clarinet Sonata in F Minor op.120 no.1:
Allegro Appassionato

Andante un poco adagio

Allegretto grazioso

Vivace






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