Clarinet Quintet No.1 in G Major, Op.27 No.1
“Joseph Holbrooke in his Op.27 No.1 Clarinet Quintet shows that he is a skillful and ingenious composer. It is sure to give pleasure. In two movements, the first marked Cavatina, Andante affetuso is in the form of an elegy. The second movement, which comprises the better part of the quintet, is a Theme and Variations. The theme is presented by the string instruments alone. It has the quality of a ländler or country folksong. Of the 11 variations, with the exception of Nos. 9 and 11, all quote the theme exactly. The first variation is playful Caprice, vivace, then comes a Romance, andantino, then a Gigue, then an Elegy followed by a Serenade and then a March, maestoso, a Galop, presto. The interesting 8th variation is subtitled Tom bowling, Larghetto. No.9 is a Hornpipe, vivace, No.10 is marked Capriccio, molto allegro and the finale, variaition No.11 begins as a Fugue, presto and after many tempo changes concludes with an exciting molto allegro. I highly recommend this work for concert performance."---the noted chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Chamber Music Handbook
There is some confusion as to the two clarinet quintets which Holbrooke composed. Both bear the opus number 27. And Op.27 No.1, sometimes called Op.27a was printed as Quintet No.1 when in reality it was No.2. Both date from 1903. Our soundbite presents the Theme and Variations in their entirety.
Joseph Holbrooke (1878-1958) born near London in the town of Croydon. Both his parents were musicians and his early lessons were with his father. He was sent to the Royal Academy of Music in London and after graduating worked as a pianist and conductor, all the while composing. Eventually his big works for orchestra and chorus and his operas brought him considerable fame, however, after the First World War, he and his works fell into obscurity. He composed a considerable amount of chamber music, most of which is of a high quality and awaits rediscovery.
This is a valuable addition to the clarinet quintet literature and we agree with Herr Altmann that it belongs in concert and on the stands of amateurs as well. Unavailable for decades, we are very pleased to make it available once again.