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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: August 1997
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: March 1998
Total duration: 20 minutes 14 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 minor, Op 101
summer 1886

Allegro energico  [7'09]
Presto non assai  [3'34]
Andante grazioso  [4'05]
Allegro molto  [5'26]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The summer of 1886 found Brahms at the Swiss resort of Hofstatten. There, in the idyllic surroundings of Lake Thun, to which he was to return in the following two years, he completed three strongly contrasted chamber works: the grandly conceived F major Cello Sonata, Op 99, the relaxed and lyrical A major Violin Sonata, Op 100, and the dramatic C minor Piano Trio, Op 101. The Trio is, indeed, one of Brahms’s most concentratedly intense scores. No preliminaries here: the main theme is hurled forth in a sonority of orchestral power. The theme itself has two limbs: a sinuous line in its upper voice, and a rising scale in its bass. As early as the second bar the two voices are exchanged, with the pianist’s right hand playing the scale figure and his left the sinuous phrase. It is these two ideas that propel the greater part of the movement; and even the much more relaxed second subject, where the violin and cello once again sing out in octaves, is based on a broadened version of the rising scale. As in the C major Trio, the development is fused with the first stage of the recapitulation in a continuously evolving passage, and there is a lengthy coda which continues the developmental argument.

In one of his evocative similes, Donald Francis Tovey described the Scherzo of the C minor Trio as a piece that ‘hurries by, like a frightened child’. Not that the piece is that fast (‘Presto non assai’ is Brahms’s equivocal tempo marking), but it does share the spectral character of the Scherzo from the Op 87 Trio. This time the strings are muted, and the middle section—hardly a trio in the conventional sense—does little to disturb the nocturnal atmosphere.

Brahms at first notated the slow movement in the unusual time-signature of seven beats to the bar before opting instead to divide the metre into a recurring pattern consisting of a single bar of three beats followed by two of two beats. As in the Adagio of the B major Trio Brahms has the piano and strings alternating, though in this case it is the violin and cello that take the lead. The pulse quickens for a middle section maintaining both the music’s metrical irregularity (the impression created here is of five beats to the bar) and its basic alternation between strings and piano.

The finale sets off with what might be described as an intensified form of ‘hunting’ rondo theme. In fact, as in the Horn Trio, the piece turns out to be a sonata form, and its concentration on the minor is almost unrelieved until the onset of the coda. Here, at last, the music turns to the major and the violin transforms the main subject into a flowing melody not dissimilar to the theme of the trio section from Op 87’s Scherzo. Even at this stage, however, the music’s dramatic sweep remains undiminished and the work ends as powerfully as it began.

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  
'Hyperion monthly sampler – October 2014' (HYP201410)
Hyperion monthly sampler – October 2014
MP3 £0.00FLAC £0.00ALAC £0.00 FREE DOWNLOAD HYP201410  Download-only monthly sampler NEW  
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