Anton Stadler, Heinrich Bärmann, Richard Mühlfeld: three unfamiliar names? Well, they are the inspirers of a significant number of nineteenth century compositions including several masterpieces. Stadler was responsible for Mozart’s clarinet concerto and quintet; Bärmann for numerous clarinet works by Weber and Mendelssohn; and it was Mühlfeld who managed to coax Brahms out of semi-retirement to write two sonatas, a trio and a quintet for him.
The quintet has the traditional four movements but there’s a delicious surprise in the middle of the Adagio, when the older Brahms reverts to his youthful persona as the composer of Hungarian Dances and accompanist to the Magyar violinist Ede Reményi. Suddenly, in the central section, he conjures a Budapest café band complete with gypsy violin, swooping clarinet and imitation cimbalom! Hortobágyi Palacsinta anyone?