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13 Recordings Every Clarinetist Should Hear

There are thousands of amazing recordings by talented clarinetists from around the world, and I’ve chosen some of my favorites for the following list.

I’ve chosen these recordings based on their historical significance and prominence among the clarinet community. This list just contains classical recordings, and I know that there are countless jazz recordings just waiting to get their own list. My list includes only solo and chamber music repertoire, so stay tuned for more lists with orchestral repertoire.

By no means is this list meant to be comprehensive, and I would enjoy hearing about which pieces you would put on your own list.

So, without further ado, here are 13 recordings I think every clarinetist should listen to (arranged alphabetically by performer):

  1. Jack Brymer – The Virtuoso Clarinet with Vienna State Opera (which includes a wonderful performance of the Krommer Concerto)
  2. Louis Cahuzac – Hindemith Concerto with Paul Hindemith and the Philharmonia Orchestra; Nielsen Concerto with the Royal Orchestra of Copenhagen
  3. Philippe Cuper – Francaix Concerto with the Orchestre symphonique de Bretagne
  4. Guy Deplus – Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps with Fernandez (violin), Neilz (cello), and Petit (piano)
  5. Stanley Drucker – Nielsen Concerto with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic
  6. Benny Goodman – Bartók Contrasts with Belà Bartók and Joseph Szigeti
  7. Karl Leister – Brahms Quintet with the Amadeus Quartet
  8. Reginald Kell – Brahms Quintet with the Busch Quartet
  9. Béla Kovács – Béla Kovács Hommages
  10. Robert Marcellus – Mozart Concerto with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra
  11. Sabine Meyer – Weber Concerti with Staatskapelle Dresden
  12. Gervase de Peyer – Clarinet Recital with Cyril Preedy (especially the Benjamin Le tombeau de Ravel)
  13. Harold Wright – Brahms Sonatas with Harris Goldsmith

Comment below with your favorite clarinet recordings!

 

34 Comments

  • Martin Castillos

    As a latinoamerican clarinetist, I think Luis Rossi “Fantasia sul America” and Luis Rossi ” Zarabandeo”
    😉

    • jennymaclay

      Stoltzman did an incredible job on these! It was hard to pick my favorite Brahms sonatas because there are so many great recordings by amazing clarinetists!

  • Jerry

    How lovely! I heard you first on Clarineat in a podcast. How great to have a way for me to “participate” (live vicariously) in the clarinet world without the snarky pile on of an online forum. How great to see all of your resources published, and listen to you play (just listening to Armando Ghidoni Jazzy-Celtic Suite – II. Celtic dance because I never heard it before). My kind of sound.

    1) How can you not include Harold Wright playing Schubert’s “Shepard on the Rock” (en)????

    OK I have a personal favorite.

    2) OK I also admit I have a problem here with your list. Especially because I’m a record collector (vinyl – you guys call it) and everything from the golden era seems to only be Gervase de Peyer. But why can I not listen to this sound without cringing? I’m sorry Gervase (you’re dead… but still). There’s just no effort to get a “ping” or a centered sound. Am I the only person who feels this way? I really can’t listen to the guy.

    OK there I said it. Flame on everybody. Tell me what I don’t understand. (He’s musical, OK) Anyhow that’s what I feel.

    But great work!

    (other than your G de P recommendations) :-)

    • jennymaclay

      Hi Jerry,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s always great to hear other people’s favorite recordings, and Harold Wright’s Schubert is definitely a great recording!
      All best wishes,
      Jenny

  • Greg Baker

    I was an undergrad at the University of Minnesota in 1993 when Harold Wright died. 😢

    I either had or was in the process of attaining his final recordings (Brahms sonatas with Peter Serkin, and the Mozart and Brahms quintets).

    To this day I tear up during the Brahms quintet. The second movement in particular is akin to hearing the Angels chorus in Mahler’s 8th symphony, or Barber’s Adagio for Strings. I can almost feel Harold Wright’s ascension to heaven; and yet he left us with this beautiful music as if to say “You’re safe. I am looking down on you. I love you all. Keep making beautiful music as best you know how .”

    [Here’s my shoulder to cry on if you want it.] 😭 **hug**

    Just one man’s opinion of one recording. But it is a perfect example of the impact music can have on me.

    • jennymaclay

      Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories of one of the clarinet masters. It’s amazing how much music can affect us and our emotions, and there are few pieces more powerful (at least to me) than the Brahms Quintet!

  • Graham Elliott

    If forced to have only one ‘clarinet recording’ for the rest of my life, it would be Charles Draper’s Schubert Octet (with the Leners and others)

  • Christophe Astier

    I would also recommend Copland’s Concerto recording by Paul Meyer. I was listening to it with my late clarinet teacher Andre Pons (who sadly passed away early August) and we were both overwhelmed by the feeling of deep nostalgie from the very first notes played by Paul. Regards to all.

  • Vincent deLuise

    Jenny:
    You have superb taste in clarinetistry.
    The performances you mentioned are iconic.
    I would add
    1) the Benita Valente Harold Wright Rudolf Serkin Der Hirt auf dem Felsen;
    2) Stoltzman and the Cleveland Quartet on a famous RCA of the Brahms Op 115- they breathe as one;
    3) I don’t have a favorite Schumann Fantasiestucke Op 73 but certainly Wright and Joiner is up there;
    4) Gervaise and the Melos in the Mozart Quintet (Brahms superb as well)
    5) Stoltzman in the Finzi Bagatelles with the Guildhall (lovely chamber arrangement of what most of us play with pianists)
    6) Ax/Ma/Stoltzman in Mozart 498 (cello tr. of viola), Beethoven Gassenhauer Op 11 and the dark and stormy Brahms Op 114.

  • Michael Bryant

    Thank you. I agree with your selection. That is easy to do, but it is just not long enough. Most players have collections based only on locally sourced recordings. Now we have Youtube etc., etc. My approach has a different perspective because it covers the _whole_ of the 20th century and many countries. Your score of the 14 listed (at No 2 Cahuzac offers two works) comes out at France 4; USA 4; Britain 3; Germany 2; Hungary 1. Here are a few examples: no Spohr or Crusell, Corigliano, Austrians or Swiss or classical period players, no super soloists such as Collins, Kriikku, Fröst. This could be chapter one. Please continue?

    • jennymaclay

      Hi Michael, thank you for your feedback! This list was not meant to be comprehensive, and it certainly merits another chapter (or two, or three, or…). I would love to hear your suggestions and favorite recordings, especially on a more international level.

  • Annelies

    Istvan Kohan hommage a JS Bach by Bela Kovacs (on youtube)
    The Clarinettos (the whole cd / a trio 2 brothers with their father Ottensammer)

  • Eric Elder

    Just stumbled upon this post. Good initial list! Looking at some of the comments about the Brahms Sonatas, I think that Shifrin and Carol Rosenberger are definitely worth a listen. But when I consider “must hear” recordings, I tend to think of players that were truly foundational to the modern style. SO, I’ll chip in with Simeon Bellison, particularly his recordings of the Brahms Quintet with the Budapest String Quartet and of the lesser known Sonata in B-flat Major, Op. 161, by Alexandr Grechaninov. In the latter, Bellison’s signature sound really comes through.

    • jennyclarinet

      Thanks for your wonderful suggestions Eric! Looks like I’ll have to make a sequel with even more great recordings every clarinetist should hear!

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