C. M. Loeffler, Rapsodies. Mercury Living
Presence 434 390-2
Brahms, Op 114. Schmidl, Dolezal, Schiff.
Decca 410 114-2
It is no help to appreciating
the Brahms Clarinet Trio to know
that he used sketches originally intended
for an intended fifth symphony, since
the result is one of Brahms’ most perfectly
modelled chamber works. Any attempt
to orchestrate the trio to symphonic
dimensions would be absurdly unsuccessful.
This is as fine a performance
and recording of the Brahms’ Clarinet
Trio as I’ve ever heard or ever
expect to hear; at least as good if
not better than the distinguished Vienna
recording listed above. Certainly no-one
has ever played the clarinet part any
better than Kaiser who has a complete
virtuoso control of his instrument,
coaxing from it an enormous variety
of beautiful sounds and gracefully turned
phrases. Pianist Saoli Saito has a perfect
Brahms technique, building rich, massively
based, vertical sonorities but maintaining
transparency and agility of phrase.
The whole reminds me of the great Wesminster
recordings by Wlach and Demus in Vienna
in the 1950s.
It is not surprising
that the music of Paul Juon reminds
one of that of Charles Martin Loeffler,
since they both lived in eastern Europe
(Juon was born in Moscow, Loeffler lived
near Kiev and in Hungary) both studied
with Joachim in Berlin, at the Hochschule
für Musik, and both spent time
in Switzerland. Specifically, the Three
Miniatures are reminiscent of
Loeffler’s great Rhapsodies.
The Miniatures also display the
great talent of cellist Gouton and offer
clarinettist Kaiser a chance to show
his skill in rapid, alla zingarese
passages. The brief final Elegie
is an especially beautiful work, easily
worthy to be compared to both the Brahms
and the Loeffler.
The first movement
of the Khan work is more "Germanic"
than the other works on this disk, less
sensual or sympathetic to the instruments,
more tense and tightly structured, more
intellectual. It is almost surprising,
then, that in the slow movement he is
able to approach the lightness, the
almost sentimental wistfulness of the
Brahms Trio. As always, the performers
capture these changing moods with perfect
sympathy, achieving a thrilling agitato
in the final movement.