Clara Schumann's famous soirée


Concert at The Art Workers Guild, London, 26 October 2011 to celebrate Clara Schumann's soirée where Brahms performed his clarinet sonatas with Mühlfeld Terry Trickett (clarinet) Peter Croser (piano) for more information on Trickett Concerts - https://sites.google.com/site/trickettconcerts/ PROGRAMME Clara Schumann (1819 -- 1896), Romanze, Op.22, No 2. (originally for Violin and Piano) Allegretto Mit zarten Vortrage Johannes Brahms (1835 -- 1897), Sonata in Eb for Clarinet and Piano, Op.120, No 2. Allegro amabile -- Appassionato, ma non troppo Allegro -- Andante con moto Robert Schumann (1810 -- 1856), Fantasiestücke for Clarinet and Piano, Op.73. Zart und mit Ausdruck -- Lebhaft, leicht -- Rasch und mit Feuer Johannes Brahms, Sonata in F minor for Clarinet and Piano, Op.120, No 1. Allegro appassionato -- Andante un poco Adagio -- Allegretto grazioso -- Vivace During Clara Schumann's soirée, held on 13 November, 1894, Brahms confided in her that he no longer wrote for the public, but only for himself. This was no surprise to Clara because she already knew that Brahms's precursors to his late 'Autumnal' works for clarinet, his twenty piano pieces, opus 116 -119, were predominantly reflective, introspective and deeply personal. Clara and Brahms were joined at the soirée by Richard Mühlfeld, whose clarinet playing was the immediate inspiration for the composer's four late works for clarinet - the Quintet, Trio and two Sonatas. Brahms had first met the clarinettist at an arts festival in Meiningen, where he heard Mühlfeld (who he later nicknamed "Fraulein Klarinette") play works by Weber and Mozart. He was captivated by the clarinettist's tone and musicianship to such an extent that he was immediately coaxed out of retirement to create a set of masterworks for the instrument. Clara's soirée, held at her house in Frankfurt, gave her the opportunity of being the first of Brahms's friends to hear his newly minted Sonatas. There's no doubt that the composer, known to be supremely self-critical, was particularly pleased with his writing for clarinet and piano. He is said to have preferred the sound of this instrumentation over and above that of clarinet and strings -- in spite of the resounding success of his Quintet -- and, moreover, the Sonatas represented his final victory in a lifelong struggle to adapt classical forms to his romantic ideals. In giving natural expression for Brahms as a pianist, the works display a kaleidoscopic range of colour and emotion, and a propensity for mercurial shifts of texture and harmony -- indeed, they are prime examples of that 'economy, yet richness' which Schoenberg so much admired in Brahms. Clarinettists are forever grateful to Mühlfeld for inspiring Brahms to compose pieces that have become a mainstay of the clarinet repertoire. They represent the first extended works for clarinet and piano by a major composer since Weber's 'Grand Duo Concertant' of 1816. But Robert Schumann's Drei Fantasiestücke, Opus 73, form a very significant mid-point. Written in 1849, by a composer whose notion of creative expression was to produce works reflecting his unbridled imagination, they are like songs without words, with sudden mood swings that are a signature of so much of Schumann's music. Clara was Robert Schumann's greatest advocate and rarely failed to include his pieces in her numerous concert tours round Europe. For this reason, it must have given her considerable delight to program her husband's Fantasiestücke, written over 40 years earlier, as the pivotal piece in a soirée dedicated to celebrating the new-found sound world of the clarinet.

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