Friday, 28 April 2000

Brahms’s Clarinet Music

Listening to:

Brahms, trio in A minor, Op 114 for piano, clarinet and cello.

I’ve always been very fond of music for the clarinet. Even as a kid, I thought Mozart's clarinet concerto was just the greatest. When it was time to “upgrade” from recorder at the Saturday morning music lessons I went to, it was very easy to choose to learn to do clarinet myself. I never put in quite enough time to feel that I was that great, but I did at least do grade 5 practical affiliated to one or other of the music schools (Royal College of Music or Trinity College of Music).

Brahms’s clarinet music, i.e., this trio, the clarinet quintet, and the sonatas for clarinet and piano, were all written quite late in his life. All these pieces are full of beautiful melancholy. They’re not sobbing melodramas; rather they’re wistful art, sometimes almost happy as if looking back on the best bits of life in muted remembrance, and at other times sad, perhaps rueing lost opportunities.

I liked this rant on Elian Gonzalez. It’s a “New Zealand” perspective on it all, but I think that in this case all this means is that you know it’s a perspective with some distance on the events. Of course, the risk of distance is that you might be getting the facts wrong.