One of the most grown-up review sites around

2020
54,196 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
advertisements


Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


TROUBADISC

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


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

 

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

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
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


 


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Quintet in A major for clarinet and strings, K581 (1789) [32:28]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Quintet in B minor for clarinet and string quartet, Op.115 (1891) [38:58]
Eli Eban (clarinet)
Alexander String Quartet
rec. 2019, St Stephens Episcopal Church, Belvedere, USA
FOGHORN CLASSICS FCL2021 [71:26]

My last experience the Alexander String Quartet came in its rewarding meeting with Joyce Yang in the Mozart Piano Quartets (review). The unexaggerated excellence of this collaboration owed much to the essentials of clarity and refined warmth, and to obvious questions of resolved balance between the instruments. These questions resurface in another collaboration, this time with Eli Eban in what might yet become the clarinet coupling equivalent of the Bruch-and-Mendelssohn Violin Concerto diptych.

And if it’s Mozart and Brahms you want, then you will find that the Alexander Quartet and Eban provide readings of lyric warmth predicated on scrupulous and nuanced musicianship. Seek no further than the lyricism of the Mozart’s opening movement but focus especially on the calibration of the pizzicati figures and tonal lustre of all the instruments. Then there’s the lucid fluidity of the Larghetto, its eloquently phrased qualities held in just balance by the musicians, who are always phrasally generous but never prepared to sacrifice musical good manners to force the issue, emotively speaking. Thus, they are crisp in the ensuing Menuetto but as they show in the finale’s variations, note values, articulation, the establishment and emergence of counter-themes and all such necessary elements are privileged over superficial excitements. They dovetail with Eban most attractively here, and indeed throughout this disc whilst the clarinetist maintains full body of tone across his range and his warmly aerated vibrato is under excellent control.

The many salient features of the Mozart relate equally to the Brahms. Here too is a warmly conceived reading that marries eloquence with structural integrity. If the outer movements may seem just a touch relaxed in tempo, that’s a product of consistency of approach. Eban’s subtle variation in variation usage, not least in the slow movement, ensures a refined sense of colour, warmly vibrated, and is always audible. And the sonority of the accompanying figures, top to bottom, remains admirable. Here again, one finds pathos of expression but never sentimentality. Both finales - here and in the Mozart - end in variations and they are charmingly inflected and characterized in both cases.

To add to the pleasure there are fine booklet notes and an excellently judged recording.

Jonathan Woolf



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

 

Recordings of the Month

October


Aho Symphony 5


Dowland - A Fancy


MÄNTYJÄRVI - Choral


Rachmaninov_ Babayan

September


Opera transcriptions & fantasias


TAKEMITSU MESSIAEN


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


Schubert Symphony 9

August


Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE


Enescu Ravel Britten


Debussy Images etc.


53 Studies on Chopin Études 1
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)