Johannes Brahms

Sonata for clarinet (or viola) & piano No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 120/2

    Description by Blair Johnston

    After finishing the Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108 in 1888, Johannes Brahms returned to the duo sonata just once more; in 1894, in quick succession, he composed a pair of sonatas for clarinet (or viola) and piano that were published together the following year as Op. 120. The dedicatee of these two works was the clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld, whose playing had been an inspiration to the aging Brahms. The two Op. 120 sonatas, the first of which is in F minor, the second of which is in E flat major, are as like to one another as peas in a pod: rich-textured; songful, indeed, more truly songful than any of the string sonatas, partly by reason of the clarinettist's need to breathe; and not at all filled with the kind of hair-raising drama that has made the D minor Violin Sonata so famous. Because of their opposite modalities, they complement one another as perfectly as do the Tragic Overture and the Academic Festival Overture of 15 years earlier.

    The No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 120 has three movements: Allegro amabile, Allegro appassionato-sosteneto, and Andante con moto-Allegro-Più tranquillo. The wealth of long-limbed, lyrical melody in the opening and closing movements led Brahms to abandon the idea of a slow movement in favor of a scherzo-type middle movement in E flat minor; the central trio section, a B major Sostenuto ("ma dolce e ben cantando"), serves nicely to fill the gap left by that missing slow movement. The finale is a theme and variations in which the clarinet and piano join together to spin yard after yard of silken, overlapping, arpeggiated spiderwebs.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro amabile
    2. Allegro appassionato
    3. Andante con moto - Allegro

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Brilliant Classics 95281BR
    2016 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4795983
    2016 EuroArts / Warner Classics 555050
    2016 Warner Classics 0825646777815
    2016 Romeo Records RR 7317
    2015 Blue Griffin Recording BGR 363
    2015 Centaur Records CRC 3373
    2015 Harmonia Mundi HMC 902187
    2015 EPR-Classic EPR 18
    2014 Avie AV 2311
    2014 Rewind REW 519
    2014 Mirare MIR 250
    2014 MSR Classics MS 1479
    2014 Gega / Gega New GD 370
    2014 Genuin GEN 14545
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002187
    2014 Blue Griffin Recording BG 339
    2014 Bongiovanni GB 5181
    2013 Challenge Classics CC 72572
    2013 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 065
    2013 Leonardo / Urania LDV 14011
    2013 Audite AUDITE 91662
    2013 Aparte AP 069
    2012 CAvi-music CAVI 8553263
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099963646
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2012 Apex
    2012 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Nimbus / Nimbus Alliance NI 6210
    2012 Lawo Classics LWC 1027
    2012 Antes Edition / Zebralution
    2012 Music@Menlo LIVE 201107
    2012 Music@Menlo LIVE 201107
    2012 Melba Recordings MR 301138
    2011 Decca 462 621-2PH
    2011 Myrios Classics 4
    2011 Challenge Classics CC72505
    2011 Genuin GEN10193
    2011 Finlandia
    2011 Avi-Music 8553181
    2011 Giga Weiss 002
    2011 UT3 Records / Zebralution
    2011 Paladino Music PMR 0005
    2011 Naxos 8572506
    2010 Decca
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Centaur Records 3063
    2010 Naxos 8570827
    2010 X5 Music Group 15414
    2009 Dorian 90902
    2009 DG Deutsche Grammophon 477 818-3
    2009 MSR Classics 1322
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Berlin Classics 0016382
    2009 Claves 502802
    2009 Crystal Records Dist. 301
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Oehms Classics 110
    2009 Harmonia Mundi 195904
    2008 Onyx ONYX 4033
    2008 Nimbus 2513/4
    2008 Harmonia Mundi 907430
    2008 Centaur Records 2909
    2008 Hyperion 44331/42
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93554
    2008 Berlin Classics 0012862BC
    2007 Talent Records 381002-03
    2007 Audite 92554
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93156
    2007 Arte Nova Classics 592250
    2007 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0946373708
    2007 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT2030301
    2007 Hyperion 67584
    2007 Doremi Records 7883
    2007 Sony Classical Essential Classics 88697000252
    2006 Avie 2098
    2006 Gega 702
    2006 EMI Music Distribution 55674
    2006 EMI Classics 3556732
    2006 EtCetera Records 1177
    2006 Parlophone
    2006 ATMA Classique 22350
    2006 Hera Records 2112
    2006 Meridian Records 84190
    2006 Simax 1259
    2006 Eroica Distribution 3275
    2005 Edition HERA 2102
    2005 Talent Records 80
    2005 BIS 1353
    2005 Tudor Records 7115
    2005 Urania 927
    2005 Avie 2075
    2005 Basta 9127
    2005 Erato
    2005 Artona 1026
    2005 DG Deutsche Grammophon 002894775280
    2004 Hyperion 55158
    2004 Ashmont Records 8604
    2004 Brilliant 92392
    2004 Ongaku 024102
    2003 Brilliant 99800
    2003 Vernissage Records 5561
    2003 Parlophone
    2003 Centaur Records 2844
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 557523-2
    2003 Rca Red Seal 63293
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 Doremi Records 7830
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 585300
    2002 Zig Zag Territoires 0303012
    2001 Music & Arts 1087
    2001 Divine Art 5014
    2001 Boston Records 1005
    2001 Arte Nova 27767
    2001 Dux Records 313
    2001 Elysium 720
    2001 Vernissage Records 1022
    2000 Novalis 150137
    2000 Centaur Records 2453
    2000 ECM 457068
    2000 ECM / ECM New Series ECM 1630
    2000 Nytorp Musik 9701
    2000 Centaur Records 2706
    2000 Fine Classics 4429
    2000 Bayer Records 100260
    2000 Doremi Records 7722
    1999 Pavane 7398/9
    1999 Biddulph Recordings 150
    1999 Nimbus 5600
    1999 Pearl GEM 0057
    1999 Harmonia Mundi 190904
    1999 Pearl 9045
    1998 DG Deutsche Grammophon 453121
    1998 Aca Digital 20033
    1998 Delos 3706
    1998 Summit Records 219
    1997 Camerata Records 30CM454
    1997 Naxos 553121
    1997 MDG 0765
    1997 Camerata Records 25CM75
    1997 Philips 456320
    1997 Arts Music 47368
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 566065-2
    1997 ECM 21630
    1997 Gallo 931
    1997 Pearl 9253
    1996 Philips 454 073-2PB11
    1996 DG Deutsche Grammophon 449611
    1996 Harmonia Mundi 790904
    1996 Harmonia Mundi 911565
    1995 Camerata Records 30CM377
    1995 Harmonia Mundi HMN91 1549
    1994 BIS 213
    1993 DG Deutsche Grammophon 437248
    1993 Virgin 59309
    1993 Harmonia Mundi 1901092
    1993 Kontrapunkt 32078
    1992 Delos 3025
    1992 Chandos 8563
    1992 Chandos 8550
    1992 Chandos 6522
    1991 Koch International Classics 37034-2
    1989 RCA 60036
    George Stoffan
    Divox 29609
    Allegro Corporation 994
    EMI Music Distribution 557524
    ATMA Classique 22358
    Testament 1366
    WVH 135
    Brilliant 99800/4
    Brilliant 92392/10
    Brilliant Classics 93554/13
    Hyperion 66202
    Meridian Records 84164
    BBC Music Magazine 126
    Biddulph Recordings 011
    Calliope Approche 6695
    Stradivari 6097
    Arte Nova 46486
    Collins Records 1275
    Ars Produktion 368308
    Finlandia 95878
    FSM Adagio 97741
    MCA 9837
    Collins Records 3010
    Supraphon 111432
    Erasmus 135
    Round Top Records 83652
    Classical Records 020
    Verdi Music 6811
    MusicMasters 67004
    Erato
    EXL 4287
    Acanta 43270
    Agora Musica 008
    IMP Masters 50
    Conifer 17918
    Brilliant Classics 93554/22
    RCA Victor Red Seal 61276
    Avie 2057
    Virgin 562016-2
    Jennifer Showalter 1001
    Arte Nova 46483
    Continuum 1027
    Marquis Classics 81125
    Ongaku 102
    Music for the Viola 04
    Elan Recordings 2238
    Summit Records 324