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

'Brahms: The Complete Chamber Music' (CDS44331/42)
Brahms: The Complete Chamber Music
Buy by post £40.00 CDS44331/42  12CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
Movement 1: Allegro
Track 1 on CDS44331/42 CD8 [9'30] 12CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Movement 2: Andante con moto
Track 2 on CDS44331/42 CD8 [7'35] 12CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Movement 3: Scherzo: Presto
Track 3 on CDS44331/42 CD8 [4'26] 12CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Movement 4: Finale: Allegro giocoso
Track 4 on CDS44331/42 CD8 [6'05] 12CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

Trio for piano, violin and cello in C major, Op 87
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

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Details for CDS44331/42 disc 8 track 2
Andante con moto
Recording date
4 June 1997
Recording venue
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Brahms: The Complete Piano Trios, Clarinet Trio & Horn Trio (CDA67251/2)
    Disc 2 Track 2
    Release date: March 1998
    Deletion date: April 2013
    2CDs Superseded by CDS44331/42
  2. Brahms: The Complete Trios (CDD22082)
    Disc 2 Track 2
    Release date: October 2014
    2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1) — To be issued soon October 2014 Release
  3. Brahms: The Complete Chamber Music (CDS44331/42)
    Disc 8 Track 2
    Release date: October 2008
    12CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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