As core members of the ensemble Wigmore Soloists, Michael Collins, Isabelle van Keulen and Michael McHale present four works for clarinet trio composed over a period of some 130 years. Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio was long believed to have been composed during a game of bowling. The writing is reminiscent of a conversation between three friends in which contrasts are not excluded: we hear affection, divergences and even disagreements. This atmosphere of friendly, playful, and sometimes very intimate exchange also &&&pervades Schumann’s Märchenerzählungen (Fairy Tales). While its spirited conviviality might give the impression that this work was the product of idyllic times, it was actually composed during Schumann’s last full year of sanity before his final mental collapse in 1854.
There is a similar atmosphere of warm intimacy in Max Bruch’s Eight Pieces, written in 1910. Four of them are presented here, giving not a single hint of the approaching First World War. Based on a Russian folk tale, Stravinsky’s stage work L’Histoire du Soldat may be less good-natured than the preceding works. But the music is wonderfully entertaining, borrowing from various genres, including jazz. The composer’s trio version consist of five movements and has deservedly become his most frequently performed chamber composition.