Performing Brahms’s cello sonatas and Clarinet Trio, Paul Watkins here presents three enduring masterpieces of the chamber music repertoire. He is joined by two musicians of the highest calibre, the pianist Ian Brown, his established duo partner, and the clarinettist Michael Collins.
Himself an accomplished player in his youth, Brahms was passionate about the cello and wrote many glorious parts for the instrument. However, he had difficulty writing his Cello Sonata No. 1, eventually destroying an Adagio to leave the three-movement work we know today. Completed in 1865, it is somewhat reserved in character, with an elaborate fugal finale that, looking backwards, pays homage to Bach. A little over twenty years later, in 1886, Brahms composed his Cello Sonata No. 2, the expansive form and extrovert character of which stand in graphic contrast to the first. The writing also shows a more adventurous approach to the cello, heard right from the outset in the leaping, passionate theme with which the first movement opens.
One of his last works, the Clarinet Trio was written after Brahms had decided to retire from composition. It was the artistry of Richard Mühlfeld that inspired him to return to composition and write a series of works for the clarinet, considered some of the supreme masterpieces in the instrument’s repertoire.