Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms: Two Clarinet Sonatas

Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms: Two Clarinet Sonatas

Article excerpt

Brahms

Two Clarinet Sonatas, Op 120 (a).

Six Piano Pieces, Op 118

(a) Lorenzo Coppola cl Andreas Staier pf

Harmonia Mundi [F] HMC90 2187 (62' * DDD)

'Placid and melodious' is how The Record Guide (1951/55) described these clarinet sonatas, the verdict of placidity contradicted by many performances on modern clarinets and pianos beginning perhaps with Frederick Thurston's 1937 recording of No 2. In 1990 Keith Puddy and Malcolm Martineau bucked the trend by offering them on instruments of Brahms's day, Puddy playing Richard Miihlfeld's own B flat clarinet--closely pitched to A=440, designed by Carl Barmann and built by Georg Ottensteiner --Martineau an 1881 Bechstein. Lorenzo Coppola plays a Schwenk & Seggelke copy of a similar clarinet, Andreas Staier an 1875 American Steinway.

Neither Coppola nor Puddy makes any claims to imitation of Mtihlfeld's style.

And common instrument notwithstanding, their differences in tone are probably due to choice of reed or even individual physiognomy. Coppola, however, draws attention to Brahms's phrasing, especially the 'short slurs' which exist both individually and within longer phrases. …

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