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Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas 1 & 2 / Cohen, Ashkenazy


Release Date: 05/13/2008 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 430149   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes BrahmsRobert Schumann
Performer:  Franklin CohenVladimir Ashkenazy
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 52 Mins. 

Special Order: This CD requires additional production time and ships within 2-3 weeks.  

This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

On this disc it is not so much the wind instrument's song that captures your ear as the rich textural variety of the piano writing—and this, of course, thanks to Ashkenazy's super-sensitive tonal colouring as well as inexhaustible vitality of every kind.

All music-lovers know well that inspiration for Brahms's two clarinet sonatas came from the playing of Richard Muhlfeld, principal clarinettist of the Meiningen Court Orchestra, just at a moment in later life when Brahms might otherwise have laid down his pen. But on this disc it is not so much the wind instrument's song that captures your ear as the rich textural variety of the piano writing—and this, of course, thanks to Ashkenazy's super-sensitive tonal colouring as
Read more well as inexhaustible vitality of every kind. Without sacrifice of strength there is always a translucency of keyboard sound, ensuring that no detail of craftsmanly cunning is ever obscured, or equally no note from his partner, with whom he has already recorded this composer's Clarinet Trio. When reviewing that disc in February 1991, CH referred to the ''thoughtful'' Franklin Cohen. The epithet is just as apt and respect-worthy here. But I would willingly have sacrificed a little of the 'thought' for more immediacy and intensity of reaction, for a more compelling urge to communicate his own responses to this music. Ensemble between the two players cannot be faulted in matters of timing and balance. Yet in temperament I felt that whereas for Ashkenazy Brahms, at heart, remains the vulnerable romantic of earlier days, for Cohen he is the mid-nineteenth-century's middle-aged upholder of classical purity and restraint, of avoidance of all untoward extremes including dynamic contrast.

Schumann's three Fantasiestucke of 1849 make lesser demands: they date from his brief recourse to miniatures, in politically disturbed times, between loftier projects. But I think even these pieces would have benefited from more personal inflexion of phrasing from Cohen, and not least in rather stronger leanings on first-beat heart-tugs to squeeze out the nostalgia underlying all three. Playing-time is not over-generous, but full marks to Decca's recording engineers for quality of sound.

-- Joan Chissell, Gramophone [10/1993]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Clarinet/Viola and Piano no 1 in F minor, Op. 120 no 1 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Franklin Cohen (Clarinet), Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/1991 
Venue:  Severance Hall, Cleveland 
Length: 21 Minutes 40 Secs. 
2.
Sonata for Clarinet/Viola and Piano no 2 in E flat major, Op. 120 no 2 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano), Franklin Cohen (Clarinet)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/1991 
Venue:  Severance Hall, Cleveland 
Length: 19 Minutes 37 Secs. 
3.
Phantasiestücke (3) for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 73 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano), Franklin Cohen (Clarinet)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/1990 
Venue:  Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland 
Length: 9 Minutes 52 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano No.1 in F minor, Op.120 No.1: 1. Allegro appassionato
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano No.1 in F minor, Op.120 No.1: 2. Andante un poco adagio
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano No.1 in F minor, Op.120 No.1: 3. Allegretto grazioso
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano No.1 in F minor, Op.120 No.1: 4. Vivace
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano No.2 in E flat, Op.120 No.2: 1. Allegro amabile
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano No.2 in E flat, Op.120 No.2: 2. Appassionato, ma non troppo allegro
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano No.2 in E flat, Op.120 No.2: 3. Andante con moto
Fantasiestücke, Op.73: 1. Zart und mit Ausdruck
Fantasiestücke, Op.73: 2. Lebhaft, leicht
Fantasiestücke, Op.73: 3. Rasch und mit Feuer

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