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Johannes  Brahms
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Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)


Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8

(for violin, cello and piano)
I. Allegro con brio
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
III. Adagio
IV. Allegro
Composed in 1854, when Brahms was around 21 years old
Revised in 1891, when Brahms was around 58
37 minutes (approximately)
13 recordings, 39 videos
15:16
Pires, Dumay, Wang
I. Allegro con brio
6:37
Pires, Dumay, Wang
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
9:15
Pires, Dumay, Wang
III. Adagio
6:45
Pires, Dumay, Wang
IV. Allegro
13:41
Altenberg Piano Trio
I. Allegro con brio
6:26
Altenberg Piano Trio
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
7:48
Altenberg Piano Trio
III. Adagio
6:35
Altenberg Piano Trio
IV. Allegro
15:32
Bamberg Piano Trio
I. Allegro con brio
6:52
Bamberg Piano Trio
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
8:24
Bamberg Piano Trio
III. Adagio
6:53
Bamberg Piano Trio
IV. Allegro
10:17
Beaux Arts Trio
I. Allegro con brio
4:59
Beaux Arts Trio
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
8:11
Beaux Arts Trio
III. Adagio
6:19
Beaux Arts Trio
IV. Allegro
18:16
Beetz, Erichson, Zitterbart (1854 version)
I. Allegro con brio
6:28
Beetz, Erichson, Zitterbart (1854 version)
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
9:49
Beetz, Erichson, Zitterbart (1854 version)
IV. Allegro
32:56
Bogataj, Bogataj, Khodos
10:09
Kantorow, Muller, Rouvier
I. Allegro con brio
6:51
Kantorow, Muller, Rouvier
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
7:57
Kantorow, Muller, Rouvier
III. Adagio
6:30
Kantorow, Muller, Rouvier
IV. Allegro
15:00
Mullova, Schiff, Previn
I. Allegro con brio
6:19
Mullova, Schiff, Previn
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
9:19
Mullova, Schiff, Previn
III. Adagio
6:10
Mullova, Schiff, Previn
IV. Allegro
16:02
Stern, Casals, Hess
I. Allegro con brio
7:20
Stern, Casals, Hess
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
9:25
Stern, Casals, Hess
III. Adagio
7:08
Stern, Casals, Hess
IV. Allegro
15:01
Suk, Starker, Katchen
I. Allegro con brio
6:18
Suk, Starker, Katchen
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
8:33
Suk, Starker, Katchen
III. Adagio
6:38
Suk, Starker, Katchen
IV. Allegro
33:01
Trio di Trieste
41:46
Trio Parnassus (original version, 1854)
33:01
Zanettovich, et. al.

Johannes Brahms, 1833-1897

Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8, 1854, revised 1890

Johannes BrahmsIn 1854, laboring under the “curse” of Schumann’s glowing predictions for Germany’s new rising star, a young twenty-one year old Brahms decided to publish his first chamber composition, the Piano Trio in B major, Op. 8. This was no small undertaking: Brahms was a fierce self-critic and is known to have consigned several early chamber works to the fire. Thirty-five years later, in 1890, with all but a few final works ahead, the mature, master Brahms returned to the same trio compelled to revise. With his characteristic humor, Brahms claimed, “I didn’t provide it with a new wig, just combed and arranged its hair a little”. His changes were in fact substantial: he shortened the work by about one-third, significantly modifying all but the scherzo. It was around this time that Brahms decided to retire, after which he was coaxed momentarily by a late affair with the clarinet into a final small set of compositions. This piano trio therefore has a special significance for Brahms the chamber composer: it began his public career and it preoccupied his attentions again at the end of an astonishing series of masterpieces. In its final form, the B major piano trio bears the hand, the mind and the heart of both the young and the elder Brahms.

Though an early work, the first of his three piano trios is unmistakably Brahms. Lasting nearly half of its total duration, the first movement is a massive sonata beginning with a beautiful theme in the cello, jarred by violent contrast and escalating into a mountain of dramatic development. A restless, dark character dominates most of the trio from the first movement’s secondary themes to the brooding march of the scherzo to the wind-blown sweep of the finale rondo. While the light of B major frequently breaks through, the majority of the Trio gravitates to minor related keys, ending, despite the suggestions of its title, on a solid b minor chord. Typical of Brahms, the textures are thick, frequently juxtaposing the heavy romantic piano with the strings, violin and cello unified in a variety of parallel harmonies and symmetric counter motions.

Johannes BrahmsTo counterbalance such weight, Brahms offers the third movement adagio, a slow movement of such repose that it seems to hover, nearly motionless, an introspective intermezzo from another world. The lightest movement in multiple senses of the word, it is perhaps the most emotionally compelling, certainly, the most peculiar. The soft musical meditation focuses primarily on the piano with echoing commentary by an ethereal chorus of strings. The central section of its ternary form gathers into a tender, melancholy song first in the cello, passing to the piano and the violin across interludes that are somber, even haunting. Ephemeral, the concrete diffuses again into the abstract, the reappearance of the now familiar beginning transforming the indefinite into the transcendent.