Johannes Brahms had decided that his composing days were over, but then the retiree met Richard Mühlfeld, the clarinetist of the Meiningen Court Orchestra. Mühlfeld’s playing so very much charmed the great composer that he once again put pencil to score paper – and did so again and again – and with magnificent results then and now! Here the two Clarinet Sonatas and the equally marvelous Clarinet Trio are heard for the first time in high-resolution 3-D sound on Super Audio CD in performances by Robert Oberaigner and Michael Schöch –joined by Norbert Anger on the cello.
Mühlfeld’s supple and versatile sound must have been unprecedented – and may it have been precisely because he was an autodidact on the clarinet? In the two Clarinet Sonatas Brahms covers the instrument’s entire expressive range: cantabile song, autumnal melancholy, and excited “bleating.” Robert Oberaigner, the principal clarinetist of the Dresden State Orchestra, can do it all and enchantingly elicits these qualities from his instrument.
Brahms was an outstanding keyboard player, and the piano parts in his chamber music also reflect the same remarkable level. The piano part is in the best hands with Michael Schöch, a prizewinning pianist who has also enjoyed great success on the organ: even a first prize at the ARD Competition proudly figures on the long list of his triumphs. His profound knowledge of Brahms’s complex compositional textures immediately conveys itself even to the first-time listener.
The Clarinet Trio reveals the experienced composer’s consummate mastery. Reduced to the essentials, the three parts are designed with absolute equality. Oberaigner’s Dresden colleague Norbert Anger perfectly complements his two fellow musicians, and at the very latest the charming waltz replacing the otherwise usual scherzo will warm and win audience hearts.