Kilian Herold (clarinet), Hansjacob Staemmler (piano) (Avi-music)
Berg: Four Pieces for clarinet and piano, Op. 5; Brahms: Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in F minor; Kornauth: Clarinet Sonata; Korngold: Two songs
Kilian Herold (clarinet), Hansjacob Staemmler (piano)
Avi-music AVI 8553517 59:31 mins
Even if the packaging did not point up the theme of 1913 in Vienna, this delectable recording would still be a feast of amazing music, beautifully played. The inclusion of Brahms’s F minor Clarinet Sonata, which was actually written in 1894, can’t help but put a slight question-mark over the album’s title. Still, for me there is no such thing as too much Brahms and this late masterpiece’s wistful glances towards the past make an excellent foil for the forward-questing edginess of Berg’s aphoristic Four Pieces, Op. 5. The programme is completed by two exquisite Korngold songs, transcribed smoothly and persuasively by Herold for clarinet; and, to begin, a Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Egon Kornauth written, like the Berg and Korngold’s ‘Liebesbriefchen’, in 1913.
Kornauth may be new to many listeners and he proves to be well worth a whirl. He shares with Korngold not only a first syllable, but a teacher (Robert Fuchs) and an imaginative, ebullient style that builds on an unmistakably Straussian influence, while also being infused with characteristically Viennese qualities; the waltz-scherzo second movement is headed, deliciously enough, ‘Gemütliches Tanzzeitmass’ (Cosy dance time). The piece itself is less cosy, demanding virtuosity in spade-loads from both performers.
Clarinettist Kilian Herold and pianist Hansjacob Staemmler more than rise to the challenge. They offer a vivid partnership, with a well-sculpted approach to structure, a superb immediacy of response to detail and some colourfully characterised atmospheres – a smooth blend for the Brahms and plenty of sparkle for the Kornauth. The recorded sound is warm and friendly.