Clarinet Sonata in G Major, Op.5
Gustav Jenner (1865-1920) was Brahms' only full-time composition student. Jenner, who was born in the town of Keitum on the German island of Sylt, was the son of a doctor who was of Scottish ancestry and a descendant of the famous physician Edward Jenner, pioneer of the vaccination for smallpox. Jenner began his studies with Brahms' own teacher, Eduard Marxsen and then with Brahms in Vienna. Jenner held the position of Music Director at the University of Marburg from 1895 until his death.
Given the fact that few German composers of Brahms' time, none of whom were his students, escaped the great man's influence, it would be unreasonable to expect that someone who studied with Brahms for as long as Jenner did could have done so. Although Jenner writes with great originality and one finds many ideas which Brahms would never have thought of, nonetheless Brahms' influence is often felt in Jenner's music.
The Clarinet Sonata was completed in 1899 and published not too long after its completion. It was premiered by Richard Muhlfeld with success in Vienna, the famous clarinetist for whom Brahms has composed several works. Jenner's Sonata retains some elements of Brahms' style, and there are certainly similarities between Jenner's Sonata and Brahms'. The opening Allegro moderato e grazioso, begins with a lovely melody which recalls the geniality of Brahms. A dreamy Adagio follows. The Allegretto grazioso, which is substituted for a scherzo, keeps the laid-back mood of the preceding movements and can be likened to a graceful German Dance. The finale, Allegro energico, is lively but refined.
Certainly every clarinetist will be delighted to have another first rate romantic sonata from which to chose.