One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Salon Treasures from the Max Jaffa Library



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass

Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I

June 2022

Beethoven Sonatas 29, 32

Orchestral Works

String Quartets Vol 1




CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Sonata in F minor for Clarinet and Piano, Op.120 No.1 (1894) [21:56]
Sonata in E flat minor for Clarinet and Piano, Op.120 No.2 (1894) [21:59]
Daniel KESSNER (b.1946)
Dances for Clarinet and Guitar (1997) [12:13]
Mitchell Lurie (clarinet); Leona Lurie (piano) - Brahms
Richard Lesser (clarinet); Jordan Charnofsky (piano) - Kessner
rec. 1972 (Brahms), 2000 (Kessner)


Experience Classicsonline

I have my own private impression about Brahms. You may find it weird but here it is. I see him as an elephant that once had this Zen dream of turning into a butterfly. He woke up and decided to do it for real. The elephant spent all day on meadows, watching butterflies, copying their moves, dancing with them. And towards the end of his life he could do practically everything they did. Maybe he even learnt to fly, gracefully waving his big ears. At least, his soul did.

There is no better supporting example for this view of Brahms than his two last chamber pieces, the gentle Clarinet Sonatas Op.120. Their lazy mellowness, hushed pastel tones, generous melodies can serve as a definition of "autumnal music". Many sincere thanks to clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld of Meiningen for inspiring the composer to create them, as well as the Clarinet Trio and the sublime Clarinet Quintet.

To serve these masterpieces well, one must have a perfect blend of the two voices, and the perfect intonational control of the clarinet. One needs also a sense of forward momentum: calm must not turn into boring! Yet one should savor the serene tranquility of the quiet moments. One needs the feeling of the overall structure and the ability to project this feeling to listeners. And we have all of this in the recording by Mitchell and Leona Lurie. The piano may be a bit subdued: this recording is the clarinet's celebration. The instrument gleams and shines like a magnificent fairy-tale king. This is one of those performances where the music seems to flow through your body, like vital cosmic energy. Every corner is round, every note is polished and carefully attached. The First Sonata's Andante is sweet and silky. The Second Sonata's Allegro appassionato is not hard-driven and does not stick out of the structure, as it does in some other recordings. And even when our elephant starts fooling around, as in the exuberant final movements, the texture is still clear and accurate. It is like watching two ballroom dancers spin together with perfect technique, never stomping on each other's toes.

There is only one moment, in the first clarinet's entry of the First Sonata's finale, where its voice is suddenly shrill. But then, it is less than a second. I could wish for a more spacious recording of the piano sound, and for a more articulated presence of the piano's lower register. But for 1972 it's not bad at all.

The recording of the Brahms sonatas was issued on an LP, but it was too short-timed for a full CD. So the producer added a fill-up, another work for clarinet, this time paired with a guitar. The clarinetist is one of Lurie's former pupils, Richard Lesser. He was the principal clarinet of the Israel Philharmonic for 35 years. He is paired here with a fine guitarist Jordan Charnofsky. Another former pupil of Mitchell Lurie is the composer, Daniel Kessner. Although at some point he changed from clarinet to flute, and is now a well-known flautist, his intimate knowledge of clarinet is evident. Dances for Clarinet and Guitar, written exactly one hundred years after Brahms' death, are modern and yet lyrical, very listenable yet not "easy listening music". The four parts of the suite hold so well together that they could be named a "Sonata" as well.

In the opening Sicilienne, the two instruments seem to have divided the duties: while the clarinet sings, the guitar does the dancing. The music is slow, with mysterious glimmering and a sense of a slowly moving pendulum. The dancers move in circles, rising on their toes and pausing. One of the themes will reappear in other movements, changing disguises on the way: look for it! Balkan Dance is energetic and concentrated. The steady punctuation of the pulse is gripping. Kessner's Sarabande weaves spacious, transparent veils over slow arpeggiated steps. The last movement is Fire Dance, and Kessner describes it as "someone dancing on a bed of hot coals". There is a Rite-of-Springish rhythmic urgency and rough, jarring honks.

I sometimes felt that the musical content was thin with much space being covered by few ideas. But this can be OK for dances, and maybe that's why it's not a "Sonata". Also, there is a hypnotic effect I can't deny. The music holds its values and remains interesting on repeated listening. It explores well the timbral combinations of clarinet and guitar. The performers are first class; their playing is assured and imaginative. The guitar is full-voiced. Finally, the recording quality is just excellent, presenting the two instruments in full 3-D.

Oleg Ledeniov



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.