by Paul Shore
In 1865 Brahms’ mother died, clinic and later the same year the thirty-one year old composer dedicated his Opus 40 to her memory. Eschewing traditional sonata form the composer draws on a melody he had composed years earlier, and presents a four movement work that was originally written for natural (i. e., unvalved) horn, although Clara Schumann defended the use of the valved horn for this piece in a letter to Brahms. The first movement is marked Andante, another departure from tradition and perhaps a reflection of the elegiac nature of the work. The balance of dynamics in the Horn Trio reminds us that the pianos of the mid- nineteenth century were somewhat quieter than those today, and also call to mind how important chamber music of that day was as a vehicle of expressing the range of human emotions. The Finale provides relief from the more sombre moments of the earlier movements and concludes this rare Trio on a note of joy—one of the many ‘contrasts” of this evening’s concert.