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Brahms, Juon, Kahn: Clarinet Trios / Trio Bornalie


Release Date: 05/31/2005 
Label:  Edition Hera   Catalog #: 2113   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes BrahmsPaul JuonRobert Kahn
Performer:  Norbert KaiserFrancis GoutouSaoli Saito
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Bornalie
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

There are times when the poverty of language to describe a piece of music or one’s emotional reaction to it cannot be overcome. This is one of those times. To tell you that Kahn’s Clarinet Trio begins with one of the most haunting melodies I’ve ever heard, or that its slow movement (really an Allegretto quasi andantino) conveys an inexpressible sadness wrapped in a blanket of benevolent consolation, can only begin to express the indescribable beauty of this music and the effect it had upon me. If I was smitten by Kahn’s songs, I am hopelessly lost to this trio. Perhaps I will feel differently tomorrow or next week, but at the moment, under the spell of this recording, you will have to forgive me the hyperbole when I say that this has to be Read more one of the most glorious pieces of music ever written. I can only begin to imagine what the rest of Kahn’s chamber music output is like. Here is a major composer who must not be allowed to sink back into oblivion.

If I had to come up with an analogy for what this music sounds like, I would put it into one word: Brahms. The juxtaposition of Brahms’s Clarinet Trio with the Kahn on this same CD makes for fascinating comparisons. Except for the fact that they are in different keys, one could virtually switch movements between them and not know the difference. Does this make Kahn an artful imitator? Strictly speaking, to a large extent, yes, it does. Brahms befriended the much younger Kahn, and it was inevitable that the young composer should fall under the sway of one of the most revered and dominant musical personalities of the time. As I have noted in these pages before, despite the fact that the polemics of the New Music adherents of Liszt and Wagner managed to label Brahms, unfairly, as an arch-conservative and reactionary, (a label that stuck for the next half-century) it was Brahms who inspired a longer list of imitators than any other composer in history. That says something about the character of the man and the quality of his music. Robert Kahn may have been a name on that list, but it is clear from his songs and from at least the one example of his chamber music on this CD that the voice with which he speaks is not mere mimicry; it is an authentic voice that comes from deep within his own personal and private muse.

Paul Juon, though better known than Kahn—but not by much—is also regarded as a Brahms follower, though his voice, I think, reveals something of his Russian roots. The three excerpts from his Trio Miniatures (Rêverie, Humoreske, and Elegie) seem to dwell in a sound world somewhere a bit further to the east of Berlin and Vienna. Rêverie reminded me of something by Rachmaninoff, while Humoreske has about it the air of a Klezmer dance. According to the insert note, Juon himself transcribed these pieces from their original solo piano versions.

Overall, I have to rate this as the single most magnificent CD to come my way in many moons. It shall occupy a special place in my collection of favorite discs. The German-based Trio Bornalie is a group new to me. Their playing is as ambrosia to my soul. Clarinetist Norbert Kaiser possesses one of the sweetest tones I have yet to hear. Register transitions are smooth as silk, and the tone is absolutely even and balanced from bottom to top. Cellist Francis Gouton has less opportunity to be heard in music that essentially casts the clarinet in the starring role, but when his chances come, he bursts forth with the radiance of the shining sun from behind parted clouds. And pianist Saoli Saito is the glue that holds it all together. This wins my award for chamber music disc of the year. I can’t stop listening to it. The year is not yet half over, but I cannot imagine anything coming along to top this.

Jerry Dubins, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano in A minor, Op. 114 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Norbert Kaiser (Clarinet), Francis Goutou (Cello), Saoli Saito (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Bornalie
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/13/2002 
Venue:  Hochschule für Musik, Stuttgart, Germany 
Length: 26 Minutes 59 Secs. 
2.
Reverie, Op. 18 no 3 by Paul Juon
Performer:  Norbert Kaiser (Clarinet), Saoli Saito (Piano), Francis Goutou (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Bornalie
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/13/2002 
Venue:  Hochschule für Musik, Stuttgart, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 56 Secs. 
3.
Humoreske, Op. 18 no 7 by Paul Juon
Performer:  Norbert Kaiser (Clarinet), Saoli Saito (Piano), Francis Goutou (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Bornalie
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/13/2002 
Venue:  Hochschule für Musik, Stuttgart, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 2 Secs. 
4.
Elegie, Op. 18 no 6 by Paul Juon
Performer:  Saoli Saito (Piano), Norbert Kaiser (Clarinet), Francis Goutou (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Bornalie
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/13/2002 
Venue:  Hochschule für Musik, Stuttgart, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 1 Secs. 
5.
Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano in G minor, Op. 45 by Robert Kahn
Performer:  Norbert Kaiser (Clarinet), Francis Goutou (Cello), Saoli Saito (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Bornalie
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/13/2002 
Venue:  Hochschule für Musik, Stuttgart, Germany 
Length: 22 Minutes 40 Secs. 

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