CARL REINECKE - TRIO FOR CLARINET, FRENCH HORN, and PIANO, Op. 274
Carl Reinecke was born in Germany in 1824 and, he was not only an amazing composer, he was also a good violinist, a fantastic pianist, and renowned conductor. He performed his first piano recital at age 12 years and when he was 19 years undertook a concert tour. He studied with Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Liszt and eventually was appointed conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, a position he held for thirty years. During this time, he was also a professor of composition and piano, teaching many well know musicians including Grieg and Bruch, and composing many new works.
After his retirement from conducting and teaching, Reinecke devoted his energy to composition, writing over 300 hundred works. When he was 81, he wrote the Trio for Clarinet, French Horn, and Piano in B flat major, Op. 274. The work is in four movements and is technically demanding for all players. The opening movement begins with a grand solo by the French Horn presenting a passionate main theme which pervades the entire movement, being handed back and forth amongst the instrumentalists, and developed from beginning to end. The second movement is entitled “Ein Marchen” or a Fairy Tale and the influence of Schumann can be heard in the atmospheric and programmatic approach. This is followed by a Scherzo with two trios and the energetic final movement which harkens back to the first movement with statements of the main theme.
Reinecke's writing is in the late romantic style and, although his luscious chromaticism is presented in a very classical or conservative manner through the utilization of traditional forms, he was able to produce an incredibly unique musical creation with a wide dynamic and emotional range. His absolute control over the presentation and development of his thematic and harmonic materials produces a wonderful Trio that is captivating from beginning to end.
ROBERT KAHN - SERENADE IN F MINOR FOR CLARINET, FRENCH HORN, and PIANO, Op. 73
Robert Kahn was born in Mannheim in 1865 and began studying composition at the age of 18 years. Shortly after this he met Brahms who advised Kahn and was musically influential. Kahn was also a great pianist and often concertized in chamber ensembles or with many renown soloists and singers of his time. In 1894, he became a lecturer in composition and piano in Berlin where he taught Rubinstein and Kempff.
Kahn wrote a large number of choral and chamber works and his style is more intimate and lyrical, especially since he disliked what he perceived as emotional extravagance displayed in the music of many of the late Romantics, including Reinecke. The Serenade was written in 1922 originally for Oboe, Horn, and Piano, yet when it was submitted to a publisher, the publisher refused publication unless Kahn made a version for standard piano trio (Violin, Violoncello, and Piano). Kahn decided to rewrite the Serenade so it could be played by 9 different ensembles, including the version performed by KeyWinds Trio.
The Serenade is in one continuous movement although there are many clearly defined and contrasting sections.
MAX BRUCH - EIGHT PIECES FOR CLARINET, VIOLA, and PIANO, Op. 83
Max Bruch was born in Cologne in 1838 and began composing at age 9 years. He was able to spend many years composing and he was enthusiastically supported by his parents. Eventually he augmented his compositional career by teaching, holding a variety of musical posts in Germany.
Bruch's musical style, like Kahn, is classical Romanticism and his works are well structured and innovative. His friend, Brahms, was more popular and widely regarded than Kahn and unfortunately Kahn was primarily known as a choral composer despite his large range of works for a variety of ensembles and orchestra. His chamber music is not very well known and his “Eight Pieces for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano” were written when he was 72 for his son, a professional clarinetist. Each piece in the intimate collection is distinct in mood and tempo, and they are all relatively short, but the music is intense and passionate, each presenting beautiful lyrical melodies supported by conversative but rich romantic harmonies.
KeyWinds Trio performs a version of Bruch's pieces arranged by Yvonne Gillespie for Clarinet, French Horn, and Piano.
HEINRICH von HERZOGENBERG – TRIO FOR CLARINET, FRENCH HORN, and PIANO, Op. 61
Heinrich von Herzogenberg was born in Austria in 1843. He studied law, philosophy and political science at the University of Vienna, however, by 1864 he had turned to music and began composition classes. He studied Bach's works and was also drawn to the classical tradition. He married a piano pupil of Brahms and Herzogenberg and his new wife corresponded back and forth with Brahms. In 1872 Herzogenberg moved to Leipzig and founded an ensemble that focused on the revival of Bach's cantatas and was artistic director for ten years. In 1885 he became a Professor of Composition at the Hochschule fur Musik in Berlin until his sudden death at age 57.
Although Brahms' influence can be heard in his early works, and he paid tribute to Brahms by writing a set of variations on a theme of his, Herzogenberg's later compositions show little Brahmsian influence. Instead, many of his works exhibit an almost neo-classical style. His Trio in D Major, written in 1889 was composed for oboe, horn and piano, but the oboe part worked brilliantly when arranged for the clarinet and the KeyWinds Trio promptly added it to their repertoire.
The Trio is in four movements and the opening Allegretto is a wonderful combination of part writing and ensemble work that produces a variable texture of interplay amongst all of the instruments. The second movement is a lively Presto that hints at a hunting scenario as the horn and clarinet synchronize and then abandon the piano which chases them, eventually catching up. The following Andante is a haunting movement which highlights the horn as the instruments present a quasi-funereal processional. The final movement returns to the hunt and the galloping of the horses are suggested by a characteristic rhythmic motive that pervades the movement. The entire work demonstrates Herzogenberg's masterful understanding of composition and of the instruments for which he writes.