Archive for September, 2016

Antonín Dvořák, Piano Trio No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 26, B. 56

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)

Piano Trio No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 26, B. 56

Antonín DvořákDvořák composed four piano trios, each more famous than its predecessor concluding with his most celebrated final trio known by the nickname “Dumky”. The prior in F minor is a muscular, serious trio drawing comparisons with Brahms, a contemporary and friend only eight years older. Dvořák’s even earlier second Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 26 is much more rarely programmed, crowded out by its more familiar successors, but it is a very fine piano trio imbued with Dvorak’s vivid musical personality: Color, warmth, lyricism, melancholy, lively dance, Slavic folk elements and artful craft abound. His already masterful skills wielded confidently display a mature composer in fine form.

Yet, as Dvořák began this trio early in 1876, he was a thirty-five-year-old unknown provincial composer. He had just applied to a commission in Vienna that granted funds to struggling artists and caught the attention of two prominent boards members, Eduard Hanslick and Johannes Brahms, both of whom found promising talent in Dvorak’s submissions and awarded him the highest amount allowable. With new funding, an ongoing connection with Brahms and his publisher, and a fresh creative impetus yielding several winning works in short order, within the next year or so, Dvorak would achieve international fame. (more…)

Johannes Brahms, Horn Trio, E-Flat, Op. 40

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Horn Trio, E-flat, Op. 40 (1865)

Like Beethoven, Brahms loved to visit beautiful, rustic settings, and “vacation” with fresh inspiration and the joy of composing. Soon after mourning his mother’s death, Brahms found himself walking through the Black Forest near the spas of Baden Baden in the springtime. There, nature, nostalgia and elegiac reflections gave birth to his miraculous trio for violin, horn and piano which he finished and premiered by that winter of 1865. Rather than the more modern “French” horn with valves enabling a more automatic intonation across a chromatic range, Brahms specifically called for the more ancient valveless “natural horn,” which he called the “Waldhorn” (forest horn). It is also called the “hand horn” because without values, the player must use his hand in the bell, “stopping” it in different ways to achieve certain pitches and tones. Brahms may have chosen the instrument for its special color and its rustic associations. (more…)