"When you think of two American composers exhibiting extremes in method and aesthetics, 20th century giants Morton Feldman and Milton Babbitt are certainly a good example. There are no two men with more opposite views on music and expression. You might think therefore that listening to their music side by side would automatically turn off 50% of the audience. You’d be wrong.
The New York based Phoenix Ensemble has paired Feldman's Clarinet and String Quartet and the world premiere recording of Babbitt's Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, and the result shows their deep musical connections. Each benefits from the other’s perspective on texture, color, and time-flow.
Feldman's suspended transparency next to Babbitt's equally striking gnarliness complement one another, and provide a compelling case for the importance and influence of these composers to the American music
scene in recent decades.
The Phoenix Ensemble, with the approval and guidance of Mr. Babbitt, provides a first look into his largely unknown masterwork, and an equally enlightening performance of Feldman's poignantly expressive music." (label info)
Brahms’s two sonatas for clarinet and piano, Op 120, composed in 1894, were followed only by the four Serious Songs and a set of organ chorale preludes (some of which may have been written at earlier times). His farewell to chamber music was also his farewell gift to the clarinet. The two works recorded here were preceded by the Clarinet Trio in A minor (Op 114) and the great Clarinet Quintet in B minor (Op 115), and all four masterpieces were inspired by the playing of Richard Mühlfeld, principal clarinettist of the Meiningen Orchestra.