About the Music

January 2017 with Steve Sánchez, clarinet: Shostakovich 10th String Quartet and Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet in b minor, op. 115

Johannes Brahms’ love for his art both elevated him as one of the greatest composers and at the same time often had a crippling effect on him.  A self-effacing perfectionist, he left (in his estimation) his lesser compositions unpublished, and often destroyed.  Late in life he went so far as to swear off writing, but upon hearing clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld was so inspired he re-emerged from retirement and wrote what have become some of his most beloved works, including the transcendental opus 115 clarinet quintet.  In the reaching gestures and soaring melodies, Brahms returns to his craft with a profound sense of love and reflection.

Although the 10th String Quartet is one of his lesser-known of the genre, Shostakovich is at his very best in this work.  Written and published in close proximity to the 8th and 9th quartets, this work unleashes an emotional spectrum from serene heartbreak to fiery fury as only Shostakovich can, in dedication to a friend and fellow composer who had lost much of his family in the tragedies of the Holocaust.

Steve Sánchez is one of the Bay Area’s hottest clarinettists – performing regularly with the SF Symphony and Ballet as well as appearances with orchestras across the nation.