This collection of five of Brahms’s chamber music masterpieces includes four with piano and all of these feature the supreme artistry of András Schiff. Both the quintets – for clarinet and for piano – are included; the recording of the Clarinet Quintet with Peter Schmidl with members of the New Vienna Octet, receives its first release on CD. The rarest of the chamber works on this collection is the set of Variations on a Theme of Schumann, Robert. Composed in 1854 for piano four-hands, Brahms’s biographer Malcolm MacDonald called it a ‘special act of solace’ for Schumann, Clara, to whom they were dedicated. In fact, the title page reads, ‘Minor Variations on a Theme by Him, Dedicated to Her’. Here, Schiff is joined by his Hungarian compatriot Sir Georg Solti, at the piano. Also representing Hungary on this collection is the Takács Quartet.
“the sonority remains warm and full, and in the clarinet trio balance could scarcely be bettered. It would certainly be hard to imagine lovelier reproduction of Dolezal’s burnished cello … the atmosphere is seductively Viennese, warm and relaxed … The sound and balance seems to me, virtually ideal” (Clarinet & Horn Trios)
“glowing piano and string tone” (Piano Quintet)
“The eloquent soaring clarinet line of the openingphrase immediately sets the seal on what is to be a passionately committed reading throughout […] the element of nostalgia is not missing, with the Adagio tenderly eloquent from clarinet and strings alike.” (Clarinet Quintet)