Notes and Editorial Reviews
Max Bruch (1838?1920) composed his Double Concerto for clarinet, viola, and orchestra in 1911, with his son, Max Felix, a fine player of the clarinet, particularly in mind. A year earlier, he composed the op. 83
, in which the versatile piano takes the place of an orchestra, but the main purpose is to exploit the expressive possibilities of the clarinet and the viola for solo and duet playing. These are excellent works; unfortunately, the demand for such music has never been great. The concerto is short, taking less than 18 minutes in this performance; I have another recording, long out of print, where it
takes less than 17. The concerto is unusual in beginning with a relatively slow movement, proceeding to a somewhat faster one, and ending with a vigorous
The most striking passages come at the very beginning, where first the viola and then the clarinet introduce themselves, much as the cello and violin do in the Brahms Double Concerto. Most of what follows reminds one of the 18th-century sinfonia concertante rather than the 19th-century virtuoso concerto, but the music is sufficiently inventive to reward the listener who can do without musical jolts and shocks.
vary in length, but taken together are twice as long as the concerto, and in many ways more daring. No. 3, the longest at seven minutes, is a stunner, worth the price of the CD by itself. Robert Schumann?s
, from 1853, and therefore one of his last works before committal to the mental institution where he died, is both a showcase for clarinet, viola, and piano, and a work with its own jolts and shocks in abundance. Fine as the best of the Bruch material is, one feels that the program has moved from estimable talent to pure genius. This music defies the notion, mainly raised for purposes of refuting it these days, that Schumann?s talent was in decline before he went mad; on the other hand, some hear evidences of mental disturbance in these fascinating pieces. Performances are fine, and ASV?s engineering is excellent, as usual. Merely listening, one could not guess the concerto (2002) was recorded seven years after the other works (1995).
FANFARE: Robert McColley
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