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Hyperion Records

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Postcard depicting Brahms composing his Symphony No 1 (c1900). Austrian School, 20th century
Private Collection / Archives Charmet / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDS44331/42
Recording details: June 1997
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: March 1998
Total duration: 27 minutes 36 seconds

'The pick of this crop has to be Brahms's Complete Chamber Music from Hyperion. Spanning more than two decades, this box contains the finest, mainly British, performances, some very recent … Brahms's two dozen chamber works are among his greatest achievements, and yield little or nothing in quality to the better known output of Mozart and Beethoven. This box contains much buried treasure' (The Mail on Sunday)

'Immerse yourself in this set of 12 CDs of Brahms's chamber music … in the last 25 years, Hyperion has managed to persuade some of the finest of chamber musicians to reveal their affection for Brahms in recordings of remarkably consistent quality … altogether life affirming music in life enhancing performances: surely one of the best buys of the year?' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This magnificent 12-CD collection … Marc-André Hamelin and the Leopold String Trio find the right gypsy touch in the First Piano Quartet … the Florestan Trio is movingly intense in the piano trios … Lawrence Power's playing of the viola alternative to the clarinet sonatas is magical. And there's much more! A superb bargain' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Stellar artists, fine sound, splendid presentation. Superb!' (

Trio for piano, violin and cello in C major, Op 87
begun June 1880; completed two years later and published in December 1882

Allegro  [9'30]
Andante con moto  [7'35]
Scherzo: Presto  [4'26]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In June 1880 Brahms began work simultaneously on two new piano trios—one in C major, the other in E flat major. He completed the opening movement of each and showed them to some of his closest friends and advisers. Despite the fact that Clara Schumann declared a preference for the E flat major piece, the always self-critical Brahms eventually destroyed it. Two years later, however, he took up the Piano Trio in C major again and completed it with the addition of three further movements. It was published in December 1882 as his Op 87.

The opening Allegro of this C major Trio contains an unusual wealth of thematic material: an imperious first subject given out in octaves by the violin and cello alone; a shadowy, chromatic subject (Clara Schumann found this too introverted—she would, she told Brahms, have preferred him to use longer notes); a further smooth idea played by the strings in octaves; and a gracious closing theme in dotted rhythm. The central section finds room to elaborate all of these except the last, and in characteristic fashion Brahms carries the music’s developmental character right through to the reprise of the second subject. There is also a substantial coda in which a sweeping augmented version of the main theme first heard in the development makes a splendid return.

The slow movement is a set of variations on a melancholy theme in A minor which again finds the violin and cello playing in octaves. The theme itself, with its characteristic ‘Scotch snap’ rhythm, shows Brahms’s continued fascination with the Hungarian gypsy style, though the penultimate variation, in the major, transforms it into a smooth, expansive melody of great beauty.

The Scherzo is in the minor, too: a mysterious, fleeting piece whose predominant dynamic marking is pianissimo. Its shadowy character is offset by the C major confidence of the soaring melody in the trio section. As for the finale, it could hardly be more different from that of the Op 8 Trio. It is one of those good-humoured rondos (with more than a hint of variation form thrown in for good measure) at which Brahms was so adept. Much play is made of the staccato repeated-note figure with which the piano accompanies its opening theme; and towards the end the theme reappears in a subdued augmented form, as though in echo of the procedure adopted in the opening movement.

from notes by Misha Donat © 1998

Other albums featuring this work
'Brahms: The Complete Piano Trios, Clarinet Trio & Horn Trio' (CDD22082)
Brahms: The Complete Piano Trios, Clarinet Trio & Horn Trio
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £10.50 CDD22082  2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1) NEW  
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