Clarinet Trio (Brahms)

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The Trio for clarinet, cello and piano in A minor, Op. 114, was one of four chamber works featuring clarinet composed by Johannes Brahms in rapid succession after emerging from retirement toward the end of his life.

Brahms was inspired to compose these works by the playing of clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld.[1] In November 1891 Mühlfeld participated in the first private performance, in Meiningen, with Robert Hausmann on cello and Brahms on piano. The following month they had a triumph with the public premiere in Berlin.

The clarinet in this Trio can also be substituted with a viola.

It is one of a small number of compositions for clarinet, cello and piano, and one of the very few to have entered the standard repertoire. Eusebius Mandyczewski, a scholar and friend of Brahms, wrote of the trio that "It is as though the instruments were in love with each other." [1]

The work consists of 4 movements:

  1. Allegro (in sonata form and in A minor, ending in A major)
  2. Adagio (in modified sonata form without development and in D major)
  3. Andantino grazioso - Trio (in ternary form and in A major)
  4. Allegro (in sonata form and in A minor).

The trio is known for its bare and simple themes, although the composition as a whole is far from unremarkable. In the opening movement, Brahms infuses the conventional sonata form with a number of unconventional elements. One particularly unusual aspect of the movement is that the exposition section, which has modulated to E minor, ends with a plagal half-cadence (I-IV).[2]

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  1. ^ a b (Freed 2004)
  2. ^ Notley, Margaret (2007). Lateness and Brahms: Music and Culture in the Twilight of Viennese Liberalism. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 90–92. 

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