Famous clarinet works: chamber music
W.A. Mozart: Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581
Like Mozart's concerto, this work was composed for his friend Anton Stadler. The somehow melancholy tinges amid the flamboyance are highly typical of Mozart's music. Particularly memorable are the profound tonal contrasts in the second movement. There has been speculation that this work too was written for the basset clarinet, and recently there has been an increasing number of performances using reconstructions of the basset clarinet in place of an ordinary clarinet.
J. Brahms: Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115
In addition to this quintet, Brahms composed three other chamber music works that use a clarinet-two sonatas and a trio with piano and cello. All four of these works were composed for Richard Mühlfeld, a clarinetist with the Meininger Hofkapelle (court orchestra). Suffused with profound sorrow and pathos, this quintet (which was clearly composed with an awareness of Mozart's works) is indicative of Brahms' state of mind in his later years. At the very instant at which the clarinet unobtrusively starts to take voice in the opening of the first movement (picking up where the tear-choked strings have left off), the listener is inexorably drawn into his unique world.