Brahms & Carter: Clarinet Quintets Phoenix Ensemble & Mark Lieb

Album info



Label: Navona

Genre: Classical

Subgenre: Chamber Music

Album including Album cover


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  • Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897): Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115:
  • 1Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115: I. Allegro14:12
  • 2Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115: II. Adagio11:46
  • 3Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115: III. Andantino04:52
  • 4Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115: IV. Con moto10:10
  • Elliott Carter (1908 - 2012): Esprit rude/esprit doux:
  • 5Esprit rude/esprit doux05:07
  • Clarinet Quintet:
  • 6Clarinet Quintet: I. Allegro non troppo02:10
  • 7Clarinet Quintet: II. Meno mosso04:36
  • 8Clarinet Quintet: III. Adagio03:16
  • 9Clarinet Quintet: IV. Presto01:07
  • 10Clarinet Quintet: V. Meno mosso01:59
  • Total Runtime59:15

Info for Brahms & Carter: Clarinet Quintets

The Phoenix Ensemble’s latest album JOHANNES BRAHMS / ELLIOTT CARTER: CLARINET QUINTETS is, of course, masterful. The Phoenix Ensemble now looks back on almost three decades of being a fixture in the national chamber music scene, focusing on performances and recordings of 20th- and 21st-century music. Indeed, it may be this particular specialization in complex musical structures that allows the musicians to explore Brahms' late quintet with the previously unheard thoroughness and careful reconnaissance displayed on this album.

Strikingly, both faster movements in the work – the opening “I. Allegro” and the closing “IV. Con moto” – are examined more slowly, with deep profundity. Contrary to what one may expect, the work is enriched by reining in the tempo, enlarging the underlying thought process of Brahms' compositional technique as if viewed through a magnifying glass. But there's yet another artistic merit to this measure – unifying all four movements of Brahms’ quintet in terms of speed also makes them fit perfectly with the otherwise vastly different Clarinet Quintet (2007) by Elliott Carter, a work that consists of movements which blend into one another. The ensemble's previously restrained rhythmic energy is fully unleashed in this structurally dense contemporary composition, culminating in an enigmatic finale.

In between, the listener finds the most delightful intermezzo in Carter's standalone piece Esprit Rude/Esprit Doux (1985), in itself, as the title suggests, a work of contrasts, thus bridging the gap between the centuries. But the work, and indeed this album, accomplishes more than that. In fact, with Phoenix Ensemble's two-fold skill of navigating of dissimilar musical languages, yet finding the common denominator between them, this record might just open up the eyes of Brahms lovers to the music by Carter – and vice versa.

Mark Lieb, clarinet
Igor Pikayzen, violin
Regi Papa, violin
Katarzyna Bryla, viola
Alice Yoo, cello
Colin Brookes, viola
Caleb van der Swaagh, cello
Anna Urrey, flute

The Phoenix Ensemble
is a mixed instrument chamber music ensemble based in New York City. The group was founded in 1991 with two main goals; to inspire a new and diverse audience for art music through perfomances, recordings, and residencies in schools and underserved communities, and to encourage the creation of new works as well as make accessible important music of our time.

We present over 40 concerts a year, primarily in New York City, reaching an audience of thousands. Our recordings have received worldwide praise.

Much of the work we carry out is made possible through the support of our nonprofit partner, Ansonia Music Outreach (AMO).

Mark Lieb
is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Phoenix Ensemble. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and The Juilliard School, where he studied clarinet performance with Robert Marcellus, former Principal clarinet with the Cleveland Orchestra, and David Shifrin, former Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has been a professional freelance musician in New York City since 1991, and has performed and toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. He has recorded with New World Records, Mode Records, Furious Artisans, Newport Classics, Dorian, Innova, Albany Records, and BMG Classics labels. He is also the founder and President of Ansonia Music Outreach.

This album contains no booklet.

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