Archive for April, 2016

Mozart / Johann Anton André, Clarinet Quartet in B-flat Major, K. 317d

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) / transcription by Johann Anton André (1775-1842)

Clarinet Quartet in B-flat Major, K. 317d (arr. of Violin Sonata K. 378)

Johann Anton AndréAs with many musical genres of his era, Mozart made great contributions to the “classical” sonata for violin and piano with at least 32 known compositions, the very first dating from when he was around 8 years old. His father, Leopold Mozart, wrote a well-regarded treatise on violin technique and made sure that his son had mastered the violin as well as a variety of keyboard instruments. Of Mozart’s mature, celebrated sonatas there are around 16. While today we naturally tend to call them “violin sonatas”, at the time, the genre emerged from the so-called “accompanied sonatas”, that is, for keyboard (harpsichord and later piano) with accompaniment by violin. Earlier examples of the genre are just that: essentially piano sonatas where an optional violin part reinforces the melody line in the pianist’s right hand, an easy arrangement for domestic music making among amateurs. Mozart was the first great composer to elevate the violin part to the status of equal, independent partner and it is worth emphasizing that his sonatas are for violin and piano, not merely a showcase for one or the other of the instruments. Mozart composed the Violin Sonata, K. 378 in 1779 in Salzburg and it was the first to be included in a set published by Artaria in 1781. (more…)

Brahms, Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor, Op. 101

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

Johannes Brahms, 1833-1897

Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor, Op. 101 (1886)

In his excellent, comprehensive survey of the piano trio, Professor Basil Smallman summarizes the contribution of Brahms: “With the C major and C minor trios Brahms brought the genre, in its classical-romantic forms, to a splendid culmination in the late nineteenth century. Many successors and imitators sought to achieve a comparable excellence in their works, but none showed the same capacity for combining profuse melodic invention with a seemingly effortless mastery of technique.” It is likely that the ever self-critical and circumspect Brahms destroyed or withheld from publication numerous trios, but officially, he published three for the standard ensemble of violin, cello and piano. The first, the endearing Op.8 in B Major, was published in 1854, but Brahms famously revised it decades later after completing the pair of mature trios of which Smallman speaks. Brahms composed his final Piano Trio No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 101 in the summer of 1886 when, at the peak of his powers, he produced an astonishing clutch of works including a cello sonata, two violin sonatas and some songs. Clara Schumann, whom Brahms frequently consulted for her keen musical assessments, left a revealing note in her diary concerning the scherzo: “No other work of Johannes has so entirely transported me; so tender is the flow of the second movement which is wonderfully poetic. I am happier tonight than I have been for a long time.” (more…)