Let's start the recommendations with this sublime album by Clarinetist Jon Manasse, pianist, Jon Nakamatsu, and the Tokyo String Quartet. It is simply a fantastic album all around. Being a clarinet player, I am most impressed with Jon Manasse. His playing is effortless, and full of emotional depth. Jon makes such a beautiful and consistent sound throughout the range of the clarinet that it can make you forget just how difficult that is to do on an instrument. His tone is also incredibly pure. If you happen to have a good stereo, or a nice set of headphones, you will hear no production noise in his sound. I have sat next to Jon in lessons, and I can tell you that he sounds like that in real life too. His sound is absolutley pure.
The Tokyo String Quartet also does a wonderful job with the piece. Their precision and intonation is excellent, giving Jon a wonderful ensemble to partner with on this pillar of the repertoire. The dynamic range of a great string quartet is always astounding to hear live. Not just the near silence that they are capable of playing with, but the power as well. Tokyo delivers all around.
This is a great recording. As a human, you need to know the Brahms Quintet, Op. 115. If you are going to listen to it, it might as well be a truly amazing recording. It is available widely, as well as on SACD, which I highly recommend if you have an SACD player.
Almost constantly, I have people I meet ask me what I am listening to these days. I suppose, since I am a professional musician, people think I have the inside track on all the good tunes. This isn't really the case, but I'm happy to pass along some reccomendations to anyone who wants them. In the coming weeks, I'll post recordings that I love that are absolutley worth a listen. Some will be clarinet-centric albums, some will not. My tastes are diverse, and yours should be too. There is simply too much great music out there.