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Johannes Brahms – Clarinet Sonatas & Trio (2005)

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Johannes Brahms – Clarinet Sonatas & Trio (2005)

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Sonata No.1 In F Minor For Clarinet And Piano Op. 120 No.1 :
01 .I. Allegro Appassionato [0:07:42.18]
02. II. Andante Un Poco Adagio [0:04:57.82]
03. III. Allegretto Grazioso [0:04:13.74]
04. IV. Vivace [0:05:14.08]

Sonata No.2 In E Flat Major For Clarinet And Piano Op. 120 No.2 :
05. I. Allegro Amabile [0:08:03.13]
06. II. Allegro Appassionato [0:04:58.08]
07. II. Andante Con Moto [0:04:53.72]
08. IV. Allegro [0:02:05.73]

Trio In A Minor For Clarinet, Piano And Cello Op.114 :
09. I. Allegro [0:07:55.26]
10. II. Adagio [0:07:45.33]
11. III. Andantino Grazioso [0:04:27.86]
12. IV. Allegro [0:04:57.18]

Marin Frost - Clarinet
Roland Pontinen - Piano
Torleif Thedeen – Cello


Martin Fröst is as fine a clarinetist as anyone alive today, and he teams up with two equally superb colleagues in presenting exceptional performances of these three chestnuts of the chamber-music-with-winds repertoire. It's worth keeping in mind that both Brahms sonatas have a movement marked "appassionato", and that is just the feeling that Fröst and Pöntinen bring to the music: a dusky-toned, smoldering quality that always seems ready to ruffle the music's well-groomed surface. I very much appreciate the fact that they also don't overdo the music's autumnal qualities, perfectly catching the "amabile" of the Second sonata's first movement and making sure that the First sonata's concluding vivace has plenty of vigor and snap. In short, these are magnificent performances, as fine as any available.

The trio rises to the same high level. Note how well the ensemble characterizes each movement, taking care to differentiate between the central adagio and the ensuing andantino grazioso. Fröst plays with a warm, liquid tone, and his intonation is dead accurate. Often clarinet and piano don't sound well together, but it's no issue here. The sonics in both stereo and multi-channel formats offer simply the last word in realism, with perfect balances and an impressive "you are there" immediacy. Yes, the microphones capture a bit of Fröst's breathing, but this is never distracting. So if you're looking for top-quality performances of these lovely works in state-of-the-art sound, this disc is unquestionably the way to go. [3/1/2006] ---David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

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