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Clarinetist Joan Enric Lluna and pianist Josu de Solaun - CD Review, 14th of May 2024

Johannes Brahms - Sonata op. 120 no. 1 in F minor for clarinet and piano; Serenade - Suite for clarinet and piano - arrangement Joan Enric Lluna.

Clarinetist Joan Enric Lluna and pianist Josu de Solaun - CD Review, 14th of May 2024

It is a pleasure to present any new recording release belonging to the extremely prolific pianist Josu de Solaun, this time in the company of a leading Spanish clarinetist, Joan Enric Lluna. "Spiritual Wings", their latest album, an April 5th debut on the Sony Classical label, was released less than two months after the album "Totentanz" featuring Richard Strauss' Burleska and Franz Liszt's Concerto No. 1 for piano and orchestra, recorded with the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jonathan Pasternak. We'll listen to it hopefully on another occasion. I return to "Spiritual Wings" which brings together the two Sonatas for clarinet and piano by Johannes Brahms, late works, together with an adaptation of the two Serenades for orchestra by the same composer by clarinetist Joan Enric Lluna.

This is the first collaboration between the two Spanish artists. We know Josu de Solaun well, we remember him in 2014 when he won the George Enescu International Competition, we admire his complete works for piano by Enescu that he recorded in 2018 and each new recording release. In 2023, he received a new award from the ICMA for the Joseph Haydn Sonatas. Now we find him in the company of Joan Enric Lluna, also a very valuable Spanish artist, clarinetist, conductor and teacher of international renown, collaborating in the chamber music sphere with prestigious ensembles, I name here the Tokyo, Alexander, Jerusalem, Brodsky Quartets, also with Tasmin Little and Martin Roscoe, Lluis Claret and Josep Maria Colom.

This new meeting on the Brahmsian repertoire is also of reference, under this title, "Spiritual wings" making a reference to the review written after Johannes Brahms and clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld premiered in 1894, the two Sonatas for clarinet and piano - I quote "fallen from heaven by itself, a spring of pure joy". They are the last chamber works composed by Johannes Brahms, concentrating all his experience and emotional life, which the two Spanish artists explore in the finest and most intimate details - a symbiotic vision, rendering the Brahmsian scenario with vigour, maximum expressiveness and professionalism of the highest quality. Surely this Johannes Brahms album too will find its admirers and rewards in equal measure, just as we are rewarded by having the opportunity to listen to such a production.

In order to provide a contrast to the two Sonatas for clarinet and piano by Johannes Brahms, the two Spanish artists have included at the end of the album an adaptation after the music of the two Serenades for orchestra by the same composer, performed by clarinetist Joan Enric Lluna. These are pages in which Brahms, at the age of 43, tried his hand at orchestral works, governed of course by the idea of composing a symphony. This time we are given the opportunity to go the other way round, to return to this concentration of sonic discourse, discovering new valences - an inspired adaptation, also rendered with an elegance and infinite expressiveness, making us understand beyond the historical data, the fascination Brahms felt for the sonority of the clarinet.

Marina Nedelcu