COMPOSERS: Weber/Brahms
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Clarinet Quintet in B flat
PERFORMER: Richard Stoltzman (clarinet)Tokyo String Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68033 2 DDD
Common to both of these releases is Weber’s theatrically extrovert quintet of 1815. It was written as a vehicle for the skills of Munich-based virtuoso Heinrich Bärmann, just as the autumnal valediction of the Brahms quintet would honour the eloquent playing of Richard Mühlfeld 76 years later. Playing on period instruments, Neidich and L’Archibudelli strike a happy equilibrium between dramatic posturing and riotous, high-spirited buffoonery. Stoltzman’s account, with the Tokyo Quartet, is an enthralling tour de force – his technical control in mercurial passagework and elegant liquidity of tone and phrasing seem all but unsurpassable. But his Brahms, gilded and nobly expansive, is less idiomatically compelling than Neidich’s rapturously introspective rival version with the Juilliard (see opposite).


The Sony disc also includes winning performances of Hummel’s Clarinet Quartet in E flat and, from Bohemian (later French) master of the Classical wind quintet, Antonín Reicha, a splendidly tuneful Clarinet Quintet in B flat, dating from c1810. L’Archibudelli plays with customary fire and imagination; Neidich’s instrument (modelled after a Grenser clarinet, c1810) has a breadth of sonority and distinctive timbre that will astonish, while the Sony engineering is in the demonstration bracket. Very strongly recommended. Michael Jameson