Electrifying clarinetist Eli Eban and the Alexander String Quartet celebrate the two masterpieces widely considered the preeminent works in their form: the clarinet quintets by Mozart and Brahms. Eric Bromberger writes: Composers have been drawn to the combination of clarinet and string quartet ever since the clarinet began to take shape in the eighteenth century. The mellow sound and agility of the clarinet make it an ideal complement to the resonant warmth and harmonic richness of the string quartet, and the range of composers who have written for this pairing is extraordinarily diverse, including Weber, Meyerbeer, Reger, Busoni, Hindemith, and more recently Carter and Widmann. Yet all these compositions, varied as they are, exist within the shadow of the two towering masterpieces composed for clarinet and string quartet, the quintets of Mozart and Brahms. Those two quintets are invariably paired in recordings, as they are on this album. And it is quite right that they should be. They are two of the finest chamber works by two of the greatest composers, and there are many parallels between them: both were written late in their creators lives, both were inspired by contact with a particular clarinetist, and both beautifully integrate the quite different sonorities of clarinet and string quartet. Neither work is in any way valedictory, yet coming near the end of each composers life they represent some of the most refined and expressive music of Mozart and Brahms.
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