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Brahms: Sonata for Clarinet & Piano, Op. 120

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Album Review

Illinois pianist/composer Patrick Beckman, with substantial help from accompanist Richard Stoltzman on clarinet, performs a suite for clarinet and piano on Big Muddy. These five pieces, all lasting between five and ten minutes, are according to the sleeve "a celebration of the various musics of the Mississippi basin." While many people associate jazz and blues with that region, and there is some jazz and blues here, this really has more of a classical feel than anything else. The clarinet and piano interaction is playful, yet the limitation of the arrangements to those two instruments helps give this more of a recital feel than a boisterous one, Beckman's piano in particular grounding the compositions in a somewhat studied mood. Though the cover also notes that these compositions evolved in the studio to some degree with Stoltzman's contributions, it's not all that spontaneous-sounding — not a criticism, but something that also distinguishes it from the more raucous blues and jazz of the Mississippi basin. The aura is more often than not pensive and introspective, with "Catfish Rondeau" hinting more than any of the other pieces at a more uninhibited Dixieland flavor.


Born: 12 July 1942 in Omaha, NE

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman straddles the worlds of jazz and classical music, his solos demonstrating an accomplished virtuosity regardless of the performance context. Stoltzman is equally at home fronting a full symphony orchestra or a small chamber music ensemble, playing swinging traditional jazz or his own soothing, new-age-tinged brand of chamber jazz. Over the course of his long career, Stoltzman has primarily endeavored to break down boundaries between audiences, bringing jazz to classical...
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Brahms: Sonata for Clarinet & Piano, Op. 120, Richard Stoltzman
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