Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Nationality: German
Born: May 7, 1833, Hamburg Died: April 3, 1897, Vienna (age 63)

Horn Trio in E-flat major, Op. 40 (for violin, piano and horn)

(for violin, piano and horn)
7:53 I. Andante - Poco più animato
7:10 II. Scherzo. Allegro - Molto meno allegro - Allegro
7:40 III. Adagio mesto
6:10 IV. Finale. Allegro con brio
Duration: 29 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1865 (age 31-32)
Premiere: November 28, 1865. Zürich, Großer Saal des Kasinos Johannes Brahms (piano), Friedrich Hegar (violin), Gläss (horn)
Published: 1866, November. Bonn: N. Simrock (age 32-33)
Note: Composed in 1865 for natural (valveless) horn with violin and piano, with the option of the horn part being performed by a cello. Revised in 1891 with alternative versions of the horn part for either cello or viola.
9 recordings, 25 videos
autoopen autoplay
28:40
Faust, van der Zwart (natural horn), Melnikov
8:06
Richard King, Amy Lee, Orli Shahan
I. Andante - Poco più animato
7:12
Richard King, Amy Lee, Orli Shahan
II. Scherzo. Allegro - Molto meno allegro - Allegro
7:08
Richard King, Amy Lee, Orli Shahan
III. Adagio mesto
6:17
Richard King, Amy Lee, Orli Shahan
IV. Finale. Allegro con brio
8:49
Myron Bloom, Michael Tree, Rudolf Serkin
I. Andante - Poco più animato
7:05
Myron Bloom, Michael Tree, Rudolf Serkin
II. Scherzo. Allegro - Molto meno allegro - Allegro
7:31
Myron Bloom, Michael Tree, Rudolf Serkin
III. Adagio mesto
6:14
Myron Bloom, Michael Tree, Rudolf Serkin
IV. Finale. Allegro con brio
8:09
Barry Tuckwell, Brenton Langbein, Maureen Jones
I. Andante - Poco più animato
7:24
Barry Tuckwell, Brenton Langbein, Maureen Jones
II. Scherzo. Allegro - Molto meno allegro - Allegro
8:07
Barry Tuckwell, Brenton Langbein, Maureen Jones
III. Adagio mesto
6:11
Barry Tuckwell, Brenton Langbein, Maureen Jones
IV. Finale. Allegro con brio
15:11
Slokar, et. al.
(part 1 of 2)
14:28
Slokar, et. al.
(part 2 of 2)
8:19
Clevenger, Perlman, Barenboim
I. Andante - Poco più animato
7:32
Clevenger, Perlman, Barenboim
II. Scherzo. Allegro - Molto meno allegro - Allegro
8:14
Clevenger, Perlman, Barenboim
III. Adagio mesto
6:39
Clevenger, Perlman, Barenboim
IV. Finale. Allegro con brio
8:13
Busch, Serkin, Brain
I. Andante - Poco più animato
7:26
Busch, Serkin, Brain
II. Scherzo. Allegro - Molto meno allegro - Allegro
8:14
Busch, Serkin, Brain
III. Adagio mesto
6:19
Busch, Serkin, Brain
IV. Finale. Allegro con brio
27:42
Brahms Trio Prague
30:12
Bain, Sussmann, Barnatan
From Kai Christiansen

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. In addition, Brahms's father was a horn player who taught young Johannes to play the instrument, too: for Brahms, it surely evoked childhood, father and home. One early review following the premiere found a critic dismayed by the choice of horn for a "chamber music ensemble," though he admired some of the deep lyricism throughout the work. Ever since, Brahms's unique horn trio has come to occupy a very special place in the repertoire. By turns pastoral, majestic, dashing on a sylvan hunt and heartbreaking, the trio is perfectly suited to the characteristic and elegant evocations of the horn, while also reflecting Brahms's surroundings in a place and time, colored by a poignant milestone in his life.

The opening movement is as novel as the instrumentation: rather than a full, fast paced "sonata form" strain and development, Brahms begins with a leisurely andante that oscillates between two themes (that apparently came to his mind while walking through the forest) (descriptor is redundant). Rich and emotional, this fresh "outdoor" music flows easily while pursuing subtle thematic variations in his finest manner. Lively, pert and galloping, the second movement is a sparkling scherzo with a bounty of themes engaging all three players in dialog. But its contrasting trio slows and darkens into a minor key with a distant, cold lament. Though the romping scherzo returns, the sorrow broached in the trio must find its full expression in the third, slow movement that Brahms labeled "Adagio mesto" (the somewhat rare Italian word "mesto" meaning truly sad). Many regard this spare, haunting movement as Brahms's elegy for his recently deceased mother. It aches with despair - somber bass notes from the horn, ominous rumblings in the piano, deafening silence. Briefly, a distant horn calls out a hopeful hymn, a German folk melody titled "In the Meadow Stands a House" as an ephemeral light in the darkness. Brahms releases us from one of his most intense, entrancing musical creations with a rousing finale to the charge of the galloping horn. It uses as the main theme "In the Meadow Stands a House" again, foreshadowed in the previous movement. Here it is transformed from celestial grace to earthy vitality.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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