Andreas Ottensamer – Brahms: The Hungarian Connection (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:01:48 minutes | 1,08 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: highresaudio.com | @ Deutsche Grammophon / Mercury Classics
Recorded: October 2014, Nikodemus-kirche, Berlin, Germany
Andreas Ottensamer, himself half-Hungarian, naturally recognizes Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet as “genuinely one of the monuments of the entire clarinet repertoire, a piece that every clarinettist dreams of playing”. The album includes Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet, one of the most seminal works for the instrument – combined with Hungarian dances and waltzes by Brahms, all newly arranged to include additional material from Brahms’ original musical sources, with an authentic folk twist. Brahms is seen as one of the most serious composers of the German school – this bold venture reveals how closely connected his music actually is to the vibrant folk music inspired Hungarian music world.
Andreas Ottensamer, principal clarinetist of the Berlin Philharmonic, has released several innovatively programmed albums without resorting to common crossover formulas. Brahms: The Hungarian Connection is another. The title is perhaps a bit too strong in that the last part of the program does not consist of music by Brahms and, in fact, has no direct connection to Brahms. But as a recital juxtaposing Hungarian folk sounds with their ramifications in the concert repertoire, the program works well. Some may not have thought of the Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115, as a Hungarian piece, but listen again to the slow movement passage where the string quartet conjures up a cimbalom. The extremely gentle performance of the quintet is worth the price of admission in itself; for a reading by an all-star group as opposed to an established ensemble, it breathes unusually well. The quartet’s cellist, Stephan Koncz, arranged the rest of the music for clarinet and string quartet, and he certainly doesn’t do anything an average Viennese musician might not have attempted during Brahms’ lifetime. From two lightly Hungarian waltzes (one from the Op. 39 set for piano four-hands and one from the Liebeslieder Waltzes, Op. 52), listeners move into more explicitly Hungarian material, first arranged by Brahms and then by other composers. It’s an unorthodox recital structure, but it’s effective, leading both to some little-known and fun pieces (the Two Movements of Hungarian composer Leó Weiner) and then to an infectious Transylvanian dance medley finale. Ottensamer’s tone modulates nicely from ultra-smooth in the Brahms to peppy in the more Hungarian pieces. Recommended for Brahmsians and clarinet lovers alike.
01 – Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op.115 – I. Allegro
02 – Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op.115 – II. Adagio
03 – Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op.115 – III. Andantino – Presto non assai, ma con sentimento
04 – Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op.115 – IV. Con moto
05 – Two Waltzes in A major: Waltz op. 39 no. 15 & Waltz no. 6 from Liebeslieder op. 52: “Ein kleiner, hübscher Vogel”
06 – Hungarian Dance No. 7, WoO 1
07 – Hungarian Dance No. 1 (Isteni Csárdás), WoO 1
08 – Két Tétel – Búsuló juhász (Woeful Shepherd)
09 – Két Tétel – Csurdöngölo (Barndance)
10 – Dances From Transylvania
Producer and recording engineer: Philipp Nedel.
Recorded October 2014 at Nikodemus-Kirche in Berlin, Germany.
Andreas Ottensamer – clarinet
Leonidas Kavakos – violin
Antoine Tamestit – viola
Christoph Koncz – violin, cello
Stephan Koncz – violin, cello
Ödon Rácz – double bass
Predrag Tomic – accordion
Oskar Ökrös – cimbalom