Poetry and Passion
Ludwig van Beethoven, Trio in B-flat major for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 11
Frédéric Chopin, Sonata for Cello and Piano in g minor, Op. 65
Johannes Brahms, Quartet for Quartet and Strings in g minor, Op. 25
Ludwig van Beethoven, Trio in B-flat Major for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, op. 11: Beethoven wrote this work in Vienna in 1797 at the age of 27. By this time, Beethoven had established his reputation as a virtuoso pianist and was beginning to be recognized as a composer. Also by this time, he may have begun to have intimations of his deafness. He published this work in 1798 and dedicated it to a countess who, a few years before (so the story goes) had literally gotten down on her knees to implore Beethoven to play. Beethoven designed this light and flashy trio for instant popularity. In the words of one biographer, it moves “from a glittering first movement and slow movement to the circus style of its finale,” which reflects variations on a “hit song” from a recent comic opera.
Frédéric Chopin, Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, op. 65: Chopin composed this work – the last published in his lifetime – in 1845-46. He and the cellist to whom he dedicated the sonata premiered the work in Paris in February 1848 at what was to be Chopin’s last public concert. The mood of this sonata has been called “grave and autumnal.” In many passages, it contrasts a calm cello part with an agitated piano part. The third movement contains what one writer has called one of Chopin’s “most poignantly elegiac melodies.”
Johannes Brahms, Quartet for Piano and Strings in G minor, op. 25: Some music scholars view Brahms as the quintessential master of Romantic chamber music. Brahms composed this work from 1856-61 (ages 23-28) and performed the piano part at its premiere in Vienna in 1862. This work demonstrates Brahms’ ability to combine classical forms with Romantic inventiveness. Movement I presents “heroic themes in repose;” Movement II is “introspective … beautiful and mysterious;” Movement III reflects “dreamy grandness;” and Movement IV, the so-called Gypsy Rondo, is “pure fire.” This piano quartet reaches back to Schubert and forward to Schoenberg.