Weber: Clarinet Quintet in B flat; Piano Quartet in B flat; Trio for flute, cello and piano

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COMPOSERS: Weber
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Weber Chamber Works
WORKS: Clarinet Quintet in B flat; Piano Quartet in B flat; Trio for flute, cello and piano
PERFORMER: Gaudier Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: CDA67464
Weber’s chamber music – just these three pieces if you don’t count the duos – clearly shows him on the cusp between Classical and Romantic. The Quartet for piano and strings, written in his early twenties between 1807 and 1809, begins with a Haydnesque gracefulness and politeness which is gradually invaded by more unruly harmonies and textures; the dramatic slow movement looks ahead to Schumann, while the closing fugue of the finale dresses 18th-century procedures in 19th-century colours. Then there’s the element of virtuosity which is a hallmark of the early Romantic era, in the showy piano part of the Quartet, which Weber wrote for himself, the concerto-like clarinet part in the Quintet with strings, designed for the pioneering Heinrich Baermann, and all three parts of the tuneful Trio for flute, cello and piano.

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The talented members of the pan-European Gaudier Ensemble are perfectly equipped to convey these different aspects of Weber’s musical personality, with the fleet-fingered pianist Susan Tomes leading the way in the Quartet and Trio, and Richard Hosford in the Clarinet Quintet recalling contemporary descriptions of Baermann’s own effortless brilliance. With a top-quality recording, this is a disc which does full and thoroughly entertaining justice to a still under-rated master. Anthony Burton