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Schumann Soireestucke / Shinohe, Spiri

Schumann / Rheinberger / Reinecke / Shinohe
Release Date: 05/08/2012 
Label:  Camerata Records   Catalog #: 28225   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Robert SchumannJoseph RheinbergerMaria Elisabeth von Sachsen-MeiningenCarl Reinecke,   ... 
Performer:  Seiki ShinoheAnthony Spiri
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SOIRÉESTÜCKE Seiki Shinohe (cl); Anthony Spiri (pn) CAMERATA 28225 (61: 12)

SCHUMANN Soiréestücke. RHEINBERGER Clarinet Sonata in e?. SACHSEN-MEININGEN Romanze. REINECKE Introduction and Allegro Appassionato. BURGMÜLLER Read more class="ARIAL12b">Duo in E?

Soiréestücke, translated here as “evening pieces,” was the title that appeared on Schumann’s original manuscript of what was to become the Fantasiestücke , op. 73. Amazingly, this isn’t mentioned in Camerata’s booklet notes. Only when I noticed an extra measure or two at the end of the first piece and the absence of two arpeggios at the end of the second did I do some research and learn that the work has recently been published by Faber. It contains a fair number of subtle textual differences from the finished version. ArkivMusic lists 140 recordings of the Fantasiestücke but this seems to be the Soiréestücke’s first.

Originally composed for clarinet, the cycle of three short pieces is often heard, sanctioned by Schumann, in transcriptions for various instruments. In this graceful performance, the first piece, with its dovetailing melodic lines, achieves a searching, “lost in the forest” feeling, and Shinohe and Spiri create good tempo relationships between the work’s movements, which, though separate, proceed attacca and have thematic connections.

All of the other much less familiar music on the program is of a very high standard. Composing for clarinet and piano seems to have created an uncanny similarity of style—warm-hearted, flowing—among this group of unrelated composers. Reinecke’s work features a bit more virtuosic note spinning than the others. Elisabeth von Sachsen-Meiningen (1853–1923) was associated with Brahms and the clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld. Her slow-fast-slow Romanze shows Brahms’s influence but has its own appealing simplicity. The sonata by Joseph Rheinberger (1839–1901)—quick, name another composer born in Vaduz, Liechtenstein—is the most ambitious composition here, a full-fledged sonata, lively and dramatic, and well worth knowing. The booklet notes fail to mention that it is the composer’s transcription of one of his violin sonatas, which explains some of the high, strenuous writing for the clarinet.

Schumann wrote that the death of Norbert Burgmüller (1810–36) from epilepsy at age 26 was “the most deplorable loss to music since the death of Schubert.” The Duo, op. 15, is Burgmüller’s most-recorded concert work, but his piano etudes are also very familiar to piano teachers. The op. 100 set includes such musically insipid though effective teaching pieces as the Arabesque and Ballade, which, though they’re popular with beginning students, I have come to dread having to hear, but here I am, a piano teacher, listening repeatedly to Burgmüller’s lovely duo and revising my estimation of his melodic gift and musical sophistication sharply upward.

The duo, a small masterpiece like the Soiréestucke , consists of three brief, interrelated movements, played without pause, that could be mistaken for sections of one unified ABA structure. The first movement’s opening theme is similar to the opening of the Saint-Saëns Clarinet Sonata. Burgmüller’s melodies, particularly in the tender slow movement, have a gentle, tossed-off feeling, and the third movement’s reprise of material from the opening is handled less pretentiously than in the Saint-Saëns.

In sum, this is a rewarding, well-chosen program. Aside from a little shrillness on a very few louder high notes and the very occasional sound of air rushing through the instrument, Seiki Shinohe plays with beautiful, mellow tone, shapely phrasing, and dramatic engagement. (I wonder about the air sound. I have heard it from the very finest clarinetists in live performance. It doesn’t seem to affect tone and it seems petty to even mention it, yet it’s more of a factor on a recording.) Anthony Spiri’s fine variety of touch and characterful playing make him an equal partner.

FANFARE: Paul Orgel
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Works on This Recording

Nachtstücke (4) for Piano, Op. 23 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Seiki Shinohe (Clarinet), Anthony Spiri (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839; Germany 
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in E flat minor, Op. 105a by Joseph Rheinberger
Performer:  Seiki Shinohe (Clarinet), Anthony Spiri (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Germany 
Romance by Maria Elisabeth von Sachsen-Meiningen
Performer:  Seiki Shinohe (Clarinet), Anthony Spiri (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Introduction and Allegro Appassionato for Clarinet and Piano in C minor, Op. 256 by Carl Reinecke
Performer:  Seiki Shinohe (Clarinet), Anthony Spiri (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1900; Germany 
Duo for Clarinet and Piano in E flat major, Op. 15 by Norbert Burgmüller
Performer:  Seiki Shinohe (Clarinet), Anthony Spiri (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1834; Germany 

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