Josef Labor Chamber Music Release Includes Wittgenstein Commissions

Josef Labor was an influential piano teacher in the early 20th Century.  He was also a highly sought-after composer. 

One of his pupils was Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in the First World War. Labor was one of the first composers Wittgenstein turned to for music. Labor wrote several works on commission for the piano left hand. 

Paul’s brother Ludwig was a clarinetist. The two clarinet trios on this release feature piano left hand. Labor wrote them for the brothers to perform together. 

Also included are two quintets featuring the clarinet. The Quintet for Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano in D major, Op. 11 was written in 1911. Labor was a friend of Brahms, and this work has a distinctively Brahsmian feel. 

The Quintet for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, and Piano in D major has a very different character. Here Labor seems to adopt a more transparent texture throughout. The melodies are gorgeous throughout. And each wind instrument is given a chance to shine. 

Labor didn’t write that much music. But it’s all meticulously constructed and sounded beautiful. As do the works on this release. 

Clarinetist Thursten Jehanus give some thoughtful and expressive performances. Recommended.

Josef Labor: Quintet for Clarinet, Op. 11; Quintet in D; Clarinet Trios

Thorsten Johanns, clarinet; Juri Vallentin, oboe; Theo Plath, bassoon; Premysl Vojta, horn; Nina Karmon, violin; Andres Willwohl, viola; Alexander Hulshuff, cello; Oliver Triendl, piano

Capriccio C5473, 2 CD Set

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