"We will not have two trumpets in the house! The school has a lot of clarinets." I remember my mother's words almost forty years later. My brother had just brought home his trumpet and it looked like a lot of fun. I decided fine, I would play the clarinet. I still got out of history once a week and it isn't too heavy.
Little did I know what a gift I had received. I am so grateful every day of my life for the incredible repertoire for the clarinet, and the Brahms Quintet is right at the top of the list. So many composers were inspired during their prime to write for the instrument: Mozart, Debussy, Copland, and Poulenc to name a few. Life without the chamber music works of Brahms alone, his sonatas, Trio, and Quintet, would seem unfulfilled.
It's better to be lucky than good. They had violas too.
Kidding aside, I love the Quintet because Brahms composed a work with five "equal" parts. While the clarinet is featured as the only non-stringed instrument, it is not the focal point of the piece, but an integral collaborating voice among peers. While the timbre of the instrument brings a broader palette of color to the piece, the clarinet does not play the role of soloist as in Carl Maria von Weber's Quintet for example. I consider it one of the finest pieces of chamber music ever written, and I always look forward to opportunities to perform it, especially with the exceptional musicians of the Accordo ensemble.