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BRAHMS TRIOS - VOLUME TWO
Gould Piano Trio

 

Gould Piano Trio

Trio in E flat for Piano, Violin and Horn, Op. 40
(i) Andante - Poco piu animato
(ii) Scherzo: Allegro - Molto meno allegro
(iii) Adagio mesto
(iv) Finale: Allegro con brio
 
Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 101
(i) Allegro energico
(ii) Presto non assai
(iii) Andante grazioso
(iv) Allegro molto
 
Trio in A minor for Piano, Clarinet and Cello, Op. 114
(i) Allegro
(ii) Adagio
(iii) Andante grazioso
(iv) Allegro

 

1. Horn Trio (i) Andante - Poco piu animato
Brahms, Johannes

2. Horn Trio (ii) Scherzo: Allegro - Molto meno allegro
Brahms, Johannes

3. Horn Trio (iii) Adagio mesto
Brahms, Johannes

4. Horn Trio (iv) Finale: Allegro con brio
Brahms, Johannes

5. Piano Trio in C minor (i) Allegro energico
Brahms, Johannes

6. Piano Trio in C minor (ii) Presto non assai
Brahms, Johannes

7. Piano Trio in C minor (iii) Andante grazioso
Brahms, Johannes

8. Piano Trio in C minor (iv) Allegro molto
Brahms, Johannes

9. Clarinet Trio (i) Allegro
Brahms, Johannes

10. Clarinet Trio (ii) Adagio
Brahms, Johannes

11. Clarinet Trio (iii) Andante grazioso
Brahms, Johannes

12. Clarinet Trio (iv) Allegro
Brahms, Johannes






Brahms Trios - Volume Two

By 1890 it seemed to Brahms that his inspiration had all but dried up. His symphonies and concertos were written, and, following the String Quintet, Op.111, sketches including ideas for a fifth symphony were amongst the "torn-up manuscript paper" that, as he told his publisher Simrock, he threw into the River Traun when leaving the summer resort of Ischl. Yet in March 1891 the conductor Fritz Steinbach arranged for Richard Mahlfield, principal clarinettist of the Meiningen Orchestra, to play for Brahms. The effect was transforming. Brahms had never included the clarinet in a chamber context, yet by the end of the year Mahlfield would premiere his Clarinet Quintet, Op.115, and the Clarinet Trio, Op.114, at the Berlin Singakadamie, with two Clarinet Sonatas following three years later. Mahlfield was the sole inspiration behind Brahms' final musical flowering, and so enchanted was the composer by the soft lyricism of Mahlfield's playing that he nicknamed him "Fraulein Klarinette". The Trio's premiere took place in December 1891, with Brahms at the piano and Robert Haussman playing the cello.
 
The choice of cello for this Trio is significant, as it replaces the more usual viola (as employed by Mozart in his Clarinet Trio, K.498), lending the work an extra richness and darkness of timbre. The materials discarded by Brahms in his fit of pique at Ischl were not entirely wasted: the Trio opens with a melody thought to be that of the lost fifth symphony, and the incomplete canons he also rejected at that time may have helped in the formation of the second theme, a canon in inversion. The gorgeous sonata-form Adagio, with its long-breathed clarinet lines, fully exploits the rich sonorities of the three instruments, preceding a Minuet-like Andante intermezzo with two trios. Compared with the Quintet, the Trio‚€ôs formal organisation is concise, nowhere more so than in the final sonata Allegro, which has been likened to late Beethoven. Throughout, the relationship between the three instruments unfolds with great intimacy, prompting Brahms' friend, the music scholar Eusebius Mandyczewski, to write: "It is as though the instruments were in love with each other".
 
The Horn Trio, Op.40, was written in the spring of 1865, and is a work of wide-ranging moods. The composer's mother died shortly before the work was written, and Brahms contrasts elegiac poignancy with the jovial hunting calls so suited to the horn. Indeed, Brahms intended the work to be played on the valve-less horn, which, though virtually obsolete and very difficult to play, has a raw quality that may have suited Brahms' combination of moods in this work. Furthermore, the work is exceptional for its omission of the sonata-Allegro form; simpler structures are employed, again suggesting the composer's desire for directness to take precedence over artifice. Nevertheless, Brahms achieves the fusion of apparently contradictory moods with great subtlety.
 
The piece opens, unusually, with an Andante, which, though wistful, also contains more vigorous passages that anticipate the Scherzo. This Allegro, though boisterous, contains a trio section in A flat minor which serves to link the Scherzo with the more plaintive first and third movements. The Adagio mesto is the most overtly mournful part of the Trio; reminiscent of the German Requiem, it features a quotation from the German funeral chorale "Wer nur den lieben Gottesst walten" ("If you would let the loving God guide you"), previously used by J.S. Bach in his funeral cantata BWV93 and in four organ chorale preludes. In contrast, the finale is abruptly cheerful, yet even here Brahms incorporates moments of dark intensity simmering beneath the movement's buoyant character.
 
The Piano Trio in C minor, Op.101, is one of the shortest of Brahms' 24 chamber works. Its epigrammatic concision does not, however, diminish the work's depth of expression; rather, its emotional intensity is compressed into four compact movements. The Trio was written in 1886 during a sojourn in Lake Thun in Switzerland, the rugged grandeur of which seems to infiltrate this music. In the muscular Allegro energico Brahms juxtaposes driving triplets with double-dotted rhythms, a device he also used in his Second and Third Symphonies, while the ardent second subject material, with strings in unison, anticipates his next work, the Double Concerto, Op.102. In the enigmatic Scherzo Brahms calls for the strings to be muted; wooden mutes are used on this recording. There follows a slow movement of elegant serenity, perhaps reflecting the tranquillity of the composer's lakeside retreat. However, this peaceful atmosphere is achieved with great rhythmic subtlety; originally conceived in 7/4 time, the metre shifts between one bar of 3/4 and two of 2/4, with the central section, quasi animato, alternating between 9/8 and 6/8. The finale is characterised by unnerving textural, harmonic and rhythmic shifts. The struggle between the tonic major and minor persists until the final bars, when, at last, C major triumphs.

Joanna Wyld, 2006