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Hans WEISSE (1892-1940)
Clarinet Sonata Op. 10 (1921) [27:30]
Clarinet Quintet in F sharp minor (1926) [43:02]
Friederike Roth (clarinet)
Berolina Ensemble
rec. 2017/18, Konzerthaus der Abtei Marienmünster, Germany
MDG 948 2078-6 SACD [70:33]

These are ‘Romantic Rarities’ indeed and Weisse's Clarinet Quintet and Clarinet Sonata are heard here in what are probably their first performances. The work of Friederike Roth and her colleagues in making the Weisse manuscripts into playable real world entities is to be applauded. It seems that Weisse, revered by Furtwängler, was born in Vienna but died in obscurity in New York. He was evidently a generously warm-hearted adherent of Brahmsian naturally singing values. The three-movement Clarinet Sonata is no wallflower but sings out its heart in rapturously active melodic music with a stormily demonstrative second movement flanked by two imploring, soulful essays. Faithful retainers supporting a youthful explosion of tuneful vitality.

The monumental, four-movement, 43-minute Clarinet Quintet is in much the same Brahmsian melos. This is nevertheless somewhat distinct from the Sonata because of its more complex weave facilitated by the string quartet. Weisse strikes out beyond the Brahmsian world in the fine and otherworldly spider-web subtlety of the third movement (Sehr Ausdrucksvoll, Doch Nicht Schleppend); it's almost impressionistic. Also, the clarinet's solo line is tense, lavish, munificent and overwhelmingly full of "heart".

The penetrating liner notes - essential with a composer quite unknown to all but a few - are by Detmar Huchting. They are in English, French and German.

The booklet incites the curious adventurer to explore MDG's and Berolina's other forays into the music of Germany's forgotten yet deserving and still rewarding: Hofmann (1842-1909, MDG 938 1808-6), Bausznern (1866-1831, MDG 1826 & 2071-6), Rudorff (1840-1916, MDG 948 1889-6) and Kaun (1863-1932¸ MDG 948 1937-6). Weisse's two works in a familiar and welcome idiom do nothing to dissuade the listener from stepping out into these unknown regions.

Rob Barnett


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