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Weber - Chamber Music (2005)

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Weber - Chamber Music (2005)

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Clarinet Quintet In B Flat Major, J182 	28:41
1 	Allegro 	10:55
2 	Fantastia: Adagio 	5:39
3 	Menuetto: Capriccio 	5:36
4 	Rondo: Allegro Giojoso 	6:31
Trio For Flute, Cello And Piano In G Minor, J259 	20:25
5 	Allegro Moderato 	7:59
6 	Scherzo: Allegro Vivace 	2:39
7 	Schäfers Klage: Andante Espressivo 	4:00
8 	Finale: Allegro 	5:51
Piano Quartet In B Flat Major, J76 	23:54
9 	Allegro 	9:32
10 	Adagio Ma Non Troppo 	6:05
11 	Menuetto: Allegro 	2:15
12 	Finale: Presto 	6:00

The Gaudier Ensemble:
Cello – Christoph Marks
Clarinet – Richard Hosford
Flute – Jaime Martin
Piano [Steinway & Sons] – Susan Tomes
Viola – Iris Juda
Violin [I] – Marieke Blankestijn
Violin [Il] – Lesley Hatfield

 

Weber’s chamber music – just these three pieces if you don’t count the duos – clearly shows him on the cusp between Classical and Romantic. The Quartet for piano and strings, written in his early twenties between 1807 and 1809, begins with a Haydnesque gracefulness and politeness which is gradually invaded by more unruly harmonies and textures; the dramatic slow movement looks ahead to Schumann, while the closing fugue of the finale dresses 18th-century procedures in 19th-century colours. Then there’s the element of virtuosity which is a hallmark of the early Romantic era, in the showy piano part of the Quartet, which Weber wrote for himself, the concerto-like clarinet part in the Quintet with strings, designed for the pioneering Heinrich Baermann, and all three parts of the tuneful Trio for flute, cello and piano. The talented members of the pan-European Gaudier Ensemble are perfectly equipped to convey these different aspects of Weber’s musical personality, with the fleet-fingered pianist Susan Tomes leading the way in the Quartet and Trio, and Richard Hosford in the Clarinet Quintet recalling contemporary descriptions of Baermann’s own effortless brilliance. With a top-quality recording, this is a disc which does full and thoroughly entertaining justice to a still under-rated master. ---Anthony Burton, classical-music.com

 

Carl Maria von Weber composed few works for chamber ensembles, and sidestepped the usual Classical constraints on the occasions when he did. The works on this 2005 release from Hyperion seem peculiarly outside the mainstream of their day, and striking for their virtuosity and devil-may-care approach to such concerns as ensemble balance, structure, and thematic coherence. The Clarinet Quintet in B flat major, J182, is, to all practical purposes, a flamboyant clarinet concerto with a scaled-down string accompaniment; and the Piano Quartet in B flat major, J76, is a bravura showpiece, sparkling with a dazzling piano part that Weber apparently intended for himself. The Trio for flute, cello and piano in G minor, J259, more closely resembles a Classical chamber work in its fairly even repartee and comparatively modest displays of technique; yet here, too, are flashes of the concertante style. Weber's music is so vivid and appealing that few will protest his liberties, and even fewer will resist the charms of the Gaudier Ensemble in these lively performances. All the musicians are in fine form, but special praise is deserved by clarinetist Richard Hosford, whose witty, nearly operatic interpretation makes the Clarinet Quintet particularly delightful, and by pianist Susan Tomes, who is wonderfully expressive and controlled in her playing in the Piano Quartet. Hyperion's sound quality is terrific. ---Blair Sanderson, AllMusic Review

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