Brahms: String Quartet in A minor op.51 no.2, Clarinet Quintet in B minor op.115

Beautifully polished performances of two Brahms masterpieces

Thankfully we have passed beyond the era when clarinettists thought of the Brahms Quintet as a quasi-concerto, though few have gone quite so far in the opposite direction as Sharon Kam, whose playing for much of the time melts into the string textures. The result is by far the most intrinsically beautiful performance of the work that I have ever encountered. Everything ebbs and flows with a natural pulse, the first movement’s development could hardly be gentler and if the Adagio may possibly be a tad too slow, it leads neatly into the players’ unhurried Andantino and a reflective view of the finale.