Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere

Special Offer
Complete Chopin
17 discs
Pre-order for £100


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

Works for Voice by György Kurtág


Best Seller

Symphony for solo piano

Chopin Piano Concerto No.1

Schubert Piano sonata

Schubert symphony No. 9

Katherine Watson (Sop)

From Severn to Somme

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

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

Support us financially by purchasing this from
Johann Baptist VANHAL (1738-1813)
Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in B flat [15:38]
Six English Dances for solo piano [10:13]
Clarinet Sonata No. 2 in C [15:49]
Piano Sonatina No. 10 in E flat [6:44]
Clarinet Sonata No. 3 in E flat [19:34]
Jane Booth (clarinets); John Irving (fortepiano)
rec. 31 January – 3 February, 2012, Salomons, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK
SFZ MUSIC SFZM0413 [67:58]

Johann Baptist Vanhal's clarinet sonatas are mostly notable for their historical value. Written between 1801 and 1810, they legitimized the clarinet as an equal partner in the sonata form. They did for that instrument what Beethoven did for the cello around the same time. Until the turn of the century, the clarinet had mainly appeared in ensembles with multiple other instruments, like the great quintets of Mozart and Weber.
To be sure, there are purely musical reasons to listen to the sonatas, as well. Take the first sonata's adagio: the piano accompaniment uses the exact same triplets you've heard in Beethoven's "Moonlight" adagio, but to accompany a very different theme and create a very different mood. The second sonata, in C and using a clarinet in C, often demands comparison with Mozart. Generally speaking, the music gets better as it goes along, leading to the wonderful third work. The performers preface that sonata with a short solo piano piece, and this works so well I was actually startled.
On the other hand Vanhal is not always as interesting here as he is in the symphonies. The Six English Dances for solo piano, in particular, create the impression that either the English aren't very lively dancers or Vanhal was not enjoying the taverns.
For lovers of historical instruments and performance practices, this is a real treat. Jane Booth, a period clarinet expert who has played with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Tafelmusik, and Academy of Ancient Music, selects several replicas of 1790s clarinets, in different keys and made of boxwood. They sound superb, and nobody will wish for a modern instrument in their stead. John Irving, a professor and Mozart expert who's written a stack of books, proves an able accompanist, and skilled at bringing out the colours and beauties of his piano, another replica, this time of a Walter fortepiano from around 1795. Both instruments are flattered by very good recorded sound.
The excellent booklet by the performers offers extensive notes on composer, music, instruments, and performance choices, including their decision to occasionally ornament or embellish lines to create a deeper sense of "dialogue". For period-instrument enthusiasts and classical-era aficionados, this will be a real treat.
Brian Reinhart