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Brahms, Double or Nothing

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Read my review published today in the Style section of the Washington Post:

Charles T. Downey, Kennedy Center Chamber Players double down on Brahms
Washington Post, April 12, 2011

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Brahms, Complete Trios (piano, horn, and clarinet), Beaux Arts Trio (et al.)
Is the first piano trio of Johannes Brahms good enough to warrant playing it twice in the same concert? The Kennedy Center Chamber Players attempted to show that it was during their Sunday afternoon concert at the Terrace Theater. The group juxtaposed the two surviving versions of the Op. 8 trio, the first published when Brahms was in his early 20s and the second made in the final decade of his life.

This is a rare situation for a composer who had infamously exacting standards for what he allowed the public to hear. The early version contains many melodic references to Brahms’s love for Clara Schumann. At the time, he was helping her deal with her husband’s mental breakdown, and Clara advised against publishing it. When he revised the trio, Brahms soft-pedaled some of those references but created a more concise and better work. [Continue reading]
Kennedy Center Chamber Players
Brahms, Piano Trio No. 1, op. 8 (both versions); Two Songs for mezzo-soprano, viola, and piano, op. 91
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

For more background on this concert, see my preview article.

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