Schumann & Brahms - Pieces for Clarinet & Piano (1990)

Schumann, Brahms

Susan Grace, Charles West

The winter of 1848-49 saw an especially prolific period in Robert Schumann's compositional life. During two days in February (the 11th and 12th), he produced his Fantasiestücke, followed a few days later by the Adagio and Allegro for horn and piano, and the Konzertstück for four horns and orchestra. With the horn work, the Fantasiestücke are normally enumerated with Schumann's lesser chamber works--the greater chamber works having already been written during a period of intense activity in this genre some seven years earlier. They may be considered to be experimental, with certain oddities immediately apparent. The traditional fast-slow-fast arrangement of movements was abandoned in favor of a relatively slow-medium-fast design. Originally called Soireestücke, these pieces were published during the year in which they were written, with ad lib alternative parts for violin or violoncello. 

One of the remarkable musical personalities of the Nineteenth Century must have been Richard Mühlfeld, whose warm, affable nature and consummate artistry rekindled Brahms’ intention to compose chamber music. In 1890, Brahms' G Major string quartet, op. 111 was sent to his publisher, Simrock, with a note saying that “the time has now come for you to say good-bye to any further compositions of mine.” The composer's regard for Mühlfeld can be inferred from the nicknames “Fraülein von Mühlfeld, meine Primadonna” and “Fraülein Nachtigall” that Brahms affectionately awarded the artist. The four monuments to the respect that Brahms held for Mühlfeld are the only four chamber works written after 1890, all involving the clarinet and all masterworks in their own rights. The profound B Minor Quintet (1891), op. 115 universally receives the highest praise among performers and writers. That the A Minor Trio, op. 114 (1891) is overshadowed by the Quintet owes not so much to the trio's lack of inspiration or craftsmanship as to the Quintet's sheer greatness.

The Second Sonata begins in an another sonata allegro design, this time much more mellow in character than the F Minor's opening. However, the stürm and drang of the First Symphony and B Major Trio are recalled in the passionate second movement—similar in form to the third movement of the first sonata, but altogether different in character. The variation form which follows begins with Brahms’ familiar poco forte marking, applied to a three-beat motive in search of a downbeat. Throughout the first four variations, that downbeat is never found within the forte dynamic; the tune finds its home only within the gentler piano dynamic at the end of each section. The final variation, Allegro, becomes an affirmation of the cadential portion of the phrase, this time expressed in a stronger dynamic.




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Susan Grace

Susan Grace is Lecturer, Artist-in-Residence, and Director of Student Performance at Colorado College where she has been on the faculty since 1976. She is also Artistic Director of the Colorado College Summer Conservatory and Music Festival. She has been Principal Pianist for the Colorado Springs Symphony, Principal Accompanist for the Central City Opera, the Colorado Opera Festival, the Colorado Children's Chorale, and has performed with the National Affiliate Artist Program.
Ms. Grace studied at the University of Iowa with John Simms; she currently coaches with Benjamin Kaplan in London. She has performed solo recitals and appeared as soloist with orchestras in the United States and Europe. She has, in addition, earned recognition as a chamber music artist with performances in the Soviet Union, and China, and has performed in numerous festivals, including the Grand Teton Festival, the Music at Oxford and Helmsley Festivals in England, and the Astoria Concert Series in Brussels, Belgium. She has recorded for the Belgian National Radio and the American Society of University Composers. Ms. Grace is a member of The Colorado College Trio, Bricolage -- a piano-percussion duo specializing in new music, and Quattro Mani -- a two-piano ensemble with Alice Rybak.


Charles West

As a solo clarinetist, Charles West has performed throughout the United States and Mexico, and in Asia and South America. Among the orchestral principal positions he has held are the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, and he currently performs as principal in the Flagstaff Festival Symphony Orchestra and with the Virginia Opera. As a performer of contemporary music he has held positions with the University of Iowa Center for New Music and is now in Richmond Virginia's new music ensemble CURRENTS. West was the first president of the combined International Clarinet Society/ClariNetwork International and he performs frequently on this organization's international convention programs.

Charles West is currently Professor of Clarinet at Virginia Commonwealth University. Previous appointments have included the University of Arizona, New Mexico State University, and Grinnell College. He holds the Doctorate in Performance and is a Fulbright Scholar. Having studied at the University of Iowa with Himie Voxman and at the University of Northern Colorado with Loren Bartlett, he has done additional study with Leon Russianoff and Robert Marcellus. West has published many articles and a composition for band, he has performed for national and international conventions of composers, teachers and performers.


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Schumann & Brahms - Pieces for Clarinet & Piano (1990)

Schumann, Brahms

Susan Grace, Charles West

Mastering Engineer:

Analog Editing - Bruce Leek
Analog to High Definition DSD Digital Transfer - Bruce Brown at Puget Sound Studios

Microphones: Schoeps Omni
Producer: Bruce Leek
Recording Engineer:

David A. Wilson: To capture a clean, dynamic, and harmonically rich instrumental presentation, a pair of Shoeps Omni microphones were employed. The microphones' signals were amplified by two superb pure class-A microphone preamps custom-built for Wilson Audio by John Curl. MIT cable carried the balanced line level signal to Wilson Audio's UltramasterTM 30 ips analog recorder. Playback reference monitoring was performed on Wilson Audio WATT lI/Puppies, driven by a Spectral DMA-50 amplifier through MIT CVT Terminator cables.

Recording location: Lucasfilm Skywalker Ranch
Recording Type & Bit Rate: Analog to DSD64

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Wson9128: Schumann & Brahms - Pieces for Clarinet & Piano
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Fantasiestucke, Op. 73 - No. 1. Zart und mit Ausdruck
00:03:04   N/A
Fantasiestucke, Op. 73 - No. 2. Lebhaft, leicht
00:03:13   N/A
Fantasiestucke, Op. 73 - No. 3. Rasch und mit Feuer
00:03:59   N/A
Clarinet Sonata in F Minor, Op. 120, No. 1 - I. Allegro appassionato
00:07:06   N/A
Clarinet Sonata in F Minor, Op. 120, No. 1 - II. Andante un poco adagio
00:04:31   N/A
Clarinet Sonata in F Minor, Op. 120, No. 1 - III. Allegretto grazioso
00:04:12   N/A
Clarinet Sonata in F Minor, Op. 120, No. 1 - IV. Vivace
00:04:54   N/A
Clarinet Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 120, No. 2 - I. Allegro amabile
00:07:35   N/A
Clarinet Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 120, No. 2 - II. Allegro appassionato
00:04:46   N/A
Clarinet Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 120, No. 2 - III. Andante con moto - Allegro
00:06:42   N/A

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