One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 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


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

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Deaconoff; Stockhausen

Live at the Clifton Festival

Choir at Clifton Cathedral


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

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
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3



Aho Symphony 5

Dowland - A Fancy


Rachmaninov_ Babayan




Cohler on Clarinet
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1894) Sonata in F minor for Clarinet and Piano, Op.120 No.1 (1894) [22:34]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Grand Duo Concertant, Op.48 (1816) [22:38]
Heinrich Joseph BÄRMANN (1784-1847) Quintet No.3 in E-flat major, Op.23 (1820-1821) [5:02] (arrangement of second movement for piano accompaniment)
Simon A. SARGON (b.1938) Deep Ellum Nights: Three Sketches (1991) [12:19]
Johathan Cohler (clarinet); Judith Gordon (piano)
rec. May 1992, Harward University. DDD
ONGAKU 024-101 [63:31]

Experience Classicsonline

Some clarinet players have their own sound. It’s pretty much the same with vocalists: many sopranos sound alike, but you can’t mistake Maria Callas for anyone else. Jonathan Cohler also has his own sound, which reminded me a bit of Richard Stoltzman. It also has this “full-steam ahead” feeling, and you always sense the presence of the player behind the instrument. It is not hard-driven, but it is driven. This is not good or bad per se, but it suits some music better than others.
And so, on this disc, it does not suit the Brahms Sonata Op.120 No.1 so well. Acrobatic jumping comes instead of free flight. The first movement is passionate, but it is also impatient, which is not really healthy for it. The Andante is not rushed and lets the music breathe freely. But the clarinet sound seems to me to be too sharp here: if this is honey, it is spicy. After this point, all is well. The Allegretto is marvellous, and the leaps and “digs” that can be so “bubbly” in other performances are very accurate and sensitive. The finale is as exuberant as one could wish, and the clarinet projects happiness most sincerely.
What could be wrong for Brahms, or at least for part of it, works well from the very start in Weber’s Grand Duo Concertant. The Allegro is playful and joyous, and Cohler’s sharpness and spiciness are most welcome here. He effortlessly dispatches the virtuosic demands of this score. The slow movement is very operatic, with dramatic and contemplative episodes, and the clarinet gives us a perfect bel canto performance. Judith Gordon provides the full ‘orchestral’ background. The finale returns to happy brilliance. Cohler’s lightness of touch in the running scales and arpeggios is impressive. After a darker middle episode, we soon enter a victorious stretta – one of those Weber did so well in his clarinet concertos.
From the same period comes the next piece, Bärmann’s Adagio from Clarinet Quintet No.3, arranged for piano accompaniment. It is a sweet, free-flowing aria. The clarinet sound is elegant and accurate, yet I would appreciate more subtlety, especially in the first section.
Deep Ellum Nights by Simon Sargon are exactly what they claim to be: three sketches. They evoke the mood of a certain section of the city of Dallas in the first half of the XX century – its local analog of the Bourbon street area in New Orleans. The names of the parts fairly describe the character of each. Dark and Smoky starts as a relaxed, almost improvisatory, blues, which is interrupted by a sharp-edged, bumpy episode, and is gradually restored. The jazzy abilities of the clarinet are put to good use here – but are still better in the second sketch, Quiet and Easy. This one has some Gershwin flair, in its steady piano pulse and sliding harmonies. It reaches an impressive climax and then calms away. In his liner-notes Cohler describes the closing Tempo di Rag as “a coquettish ragtime”. The music is light and careless, and the two instruments are like two dance partners who know their steps so well that they dare to improvise. All three sketches are listenable and moderately memorable, albeit somewhat two-dimensional. They provide a good display for the jazzy side of the two instruments, and both performers are well up to the mission.
Jonathan Cohler also contributes interesting and informative liner-notes. This is a rare case when the writing is concentrated, expressive and entertaining, and at the same time contains all the information I could probably ask for.
The weak point is the recording quality. The instruments are placed remotely, and, while the clarinet has the ability to cover the distance, the piano is just too weak. This means that the balance of the instruments is shifted, and the clarinet is too prominent even in Weber’s Duo, which is supposed to be more a duo of equals. This also means that I cannot say much about the piano playing of Judith Gordon: it is somewhere there, for sure, but you have to dig for it. Also, there are at times “shades and artifacts” surrounding the clarinet sound. The sound-picture is rather flat. Ongaku will do better with their second disc, which is predictably entitled “More Cohler on Clarinet”. Also, it will contain a program of more “active” pieces that go better with Cohler’s “full-steam ahead” clarinet playing. Here, it is not very suitable for Brahms, though the rest is fine, especially the Weber. For Brahms I would definitely look elsewhere.


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.