Mozart / Brahms - Clarinet Quintets

Album cover art for upc 099925396923
Label: SUPRAPHON
Catalog: SU3969
Format: CD

The origination of Mozart’s extensive Clarinet Quintet in A major (1789), as well as that of Brahms’s opus some hundred years later (1891), was primarily inspired by the mastery of a virtuoso clarinettist. In the case of Mozart, it concerned the famous Anton Stadler, to whom the composer also dedicated other solo compositions for clarinet. The piece’s 1789 premiere in Vienna was concurrently the premiere of the basset clarinet, in whose construction Stadler himself participated. Brahms was inspired to write his Quintet by the clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld. Bearing witness to the composition’s success is the fact that at its premiere (1891) the second movement with the melody spiced up “Hungarian-style” was repeated on no less than three occasions. The solo part on these archive recordings is played by Vladimír Ríha, solo clarinettist of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra during the Talich, Ancerl and Kubelík eras. His mastery earned him numerous accolades, including the Grand Prix du disque de l’Academie Charles Cros for his splendid recording of Kramár’s Concerto. Both of the recordings fall within the “first half” of the lifetime of the superb Smetana Quartet, which played a crucial role in establishing the reputation of the “Czech quartet school” worldwide.

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