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Father and Son
Niels Wilhelm GADE (1817-1890)
Fantasy Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 43 [11:59]
Johann Carl ESCHMANN (1826-1882)
Fantasy Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 9 [13:20]
Carl REINECKE (1824-1910)
Fantasy Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 22 [15:03]
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Fantasy Piece for Clarinet and Piano in G minor, FS 3h [3:31]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Fantasy Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 73 [9:59]
Dimitri Ashkenazy (clarinet); Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)
rec. 1-2, 5 September 2012, Franz-Liszt-Zentrum, Raiding, Austria
PALADINO MUSIC PMR 0030 [53:52]

The Ashkenazy family is so full of musical talent that I bet their pets play instruments. Dimitri Ashkenazy here reveals himself to be a talented, poetical clarinetist, with a clear tone and an affinity for the charming “fantasy pieces” of romantic composers. Whether he’s playing Schumann or a composer as obscure as Johann Carl Eschmann, Dimitri seems to be at home. No wonder: his father, Vladimir, is playing piano behind him.
 
One senses that Dimitri is all too happy to let his father upstage him on this album. Vladimir gets first billing on the cover, and it’s apparently Vladimir’s 75th birthday album, recorded less than two months after that milestone. There’s also an amusing — and decidedly unofficial — biography in the booklet which cracks jokes about the elder Ashkenazy’s height. It’s a loving family affair all the way.
 
You can hear the father digging in with relish to Carl Reinecke’s compositions, the first of which in particular seems less beholden to Brahms and Schumann than anything else on the album. You can hear the son offering his gentle take on Eschmann’s two miniatures, which are at the easygoing confluence between long Wagnerian melodies and Schubertian charm. I’d never heard of Escgmann before. The final work on the program, Robert Schumann’s own, showcases the chemistry of this family gathering.
 
Every single work here is called a “Fantasy piece for clarinet and piano”. Fantasies was probably the original idea for the recital, before it got usurped by the current title, Father and Son. Most of them stay well within the parameters Schumann set when he helped invent the genre, although Reinecke offers some ear-catching harmonies and the very young Carl Nielsen supplies a memorable little miniature. Niels Wilhelm Gade’s contribution affirms my suspicion that everything Gade wrote is charming.
 
Whether you’re a clarinet enthusiast, a traveler of romantic side-roads, or a member of the Ashkenazy fan club, you’ll appreciate this recital. The playing time is short, but the engineering is superb.
 
Brian Reinhart