THURSDAY, September 17, 2020 – 4:34 AM
Brahms: Clarinet Quintet in B minor, age 58
It was written in 1891 for the clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld and was written for A clarinet in with a string quartet. I heard this on Sirius Radio and was not at first able to figure out who wrote it, but when the last movement started I then knew it was Brahms. I’m not sure why have not heard this before. It’s wonderful music.
- 0:00 – I. Allegro, B minor: I have nothing to say about this at this time except that I think it is exceptionally beautiful. It sort of wanders between B minor and D major
- 13:07 – II. Adagio, B major: This time it’s clearly in B major, but it flips back and forth between major and minor.
- 24:53 – III. Andantino, D major- B minor:
- 34:52 – IV. Con moto, B major-B minor: This movement has a theme and five variations, the same as Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet. It references themes from the first movement and ends in B minor.
Clarinet quintets were unusual…
When Brahms composed his clarinet quintet, only a few similar works had been composed, and the other composers who wrote clarinet quintets other than Mozart don’t interest me. Brahms modeled his composition after Mozart’s clarinet quintet, and this is apparently very famous.
Brahms and Mühlfeld…
Brahms had retired from composing prior to hearing Richard Mühlfeld play, probably in in March of 1891. He then also wrote a clarinet trio and two clarinet sonatas for Mühlfeld.
The quintet received its first private performance on 24 November 1891 in Meiningen with Richard Mühlfeld and the Joachim Quartet, led by Joseph Joachim who often collaborated with Brahms. The public premiere was on 12 December 1891 in Berlin. It soon received performances across Europe, including London and Vienna both with the original and other ensembles.