Sonaten op. 120
"Only the other day I remarked that I was sure to come Brahms' new clarionet quintet sooner or later. And, sure enough my fate overtook me last week at Mr G. Clinton's Wind Concert at the Steinway Hall. I shall not attempt to describe this latest exploit on the Leviathan Maunderer. It surpasses my utmost expectations: I never heard such a work in my life. Brahms' enormous gift for music is parallelled by nothing on earth but Mr Gladstone's gift for words: it is verbosity which outfaces its own commonplaceness by dint of sheer magnitude. The first movement of the quintet is the best; and had the string players been on sufficiently easy with terms with it, they might have softened it and given effect to its occasional sentimental excursions into dreamland. Unluckily they were all preoccupied with the difficulty of keeping together; and they were led by a violinist whose bold, free, slashing style, though useful in a general way, does more harm than good when the strings need to be touched with great tenderness and sensitiveness. Mr Clinton's played the clarionet part with scrupulous care, but without giving any clue to his private view of the work, which, though it shews off the compass and contrasts the registers of the instrument in the usual way, contains none of the haunting phrases which Weber, for instance, was able to find for the expression of its idiosyncrasy. The Presto of the third movement is a ridiculously dismal version of a lately popular hornpipe. I first heard it at the pantomime which was produced at Her Majesty's Theatre a few years ago; and I have supposed it to be a composition of Mr Solomon's. Anyhow, the street-piano went through an epidemic of it; and it certainly deserved a merrier fate than burying alive in a Brahms quintet."
George Bernard Shaw: (Music in London Volume II 1890-1894)
Verlag: CLARMONIA EDITIONS
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