Andreas Ottensamer (clarinet), Sol Gabetta (cello), and Dejan Lazić (piano) perform Johannes Brahms' Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op.114. Recorded live at Hochrhein Musikfestival, Kurbrunnensaal, Rheinfelden, in Switzerland, on September 30, 2015.
In the same productive summer that saw the composition of the C minor Piano Trio, Brahms began work on a Violin Sonata in D minor. He did not complete it, however, until 1888; and two years after that came a further chamber work which he intended should be his last – the String Quintet in G major, Op.111. Brahms had decided by this time that his life's work was complete, and resolved to lay his pen aside; but he had reckoned without the inspiration that his meeting the following year with the Meiningen clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld would have on his creative imagination. Brahms was immediately attracted by the delicate sensitivity of Mühlfeld's playing and apparently spent hours on end listening to him practise. In the summer of 1891 Brahms composed, in rapid succession, the Trio in A minor, Op.114, and the Clarinet Quintet in B minor, and the two works were premiered by Mühlfeld at a concert in December of that year. Two further pieces for Mühlfeld followed in1894 – the Op.120 Clarinet Sonatas which were Brahms's final chamber works.
The inspiration behind the Op.114 Trio may have been the clarinet, but all three instruments are wonderfully integrated throughout – indeed, if anything, it is the cello that is frequently allotted the leading role. In the outer movements both main themes are initially given to the stringed instrument, and at the beginning of the work the cello is actually heard on its own, with a rising theme whose shape is perfectly complemented by the predominantly falling intervals of the second subject, in the major. This second theme, together with its accompaniment on the piano, is permeated by those chains of descending thirds which provide such a potent symbol of resignation in Brahms's late music: one has only to think of the opening bars of the Fourth Symphony, or of the third of the Four Serious Songs.
Between the two main subjects of this opening movement, the music reaches its first climax, approached by a brief series of rapid scales on the clarinet and cello; and it is these scales, sounding at first like the rushing wind, that are to stamp their mark on so much of the central development. At the end of the development the scales intensify to form a further climax, which, in a splendid inspiration, coincides with the start of the recapitulation. (The overlap is achieved by omitting the principal subject's initial bars altogether.) The scales make a distant return in the movement's coda, sweeping the music to a ghostly close.
The slow movement shares its aura of autumnal serenity with that of the Clarinet Quintet, and since it does without any equivalent to the Quintet's more agitated, gypsy-style episode, its atmosphere of profound tranquillity is more complete. The main theme, with its gently falling thirds, is clearly an offshoot of the opening movement's second subject. Eventually, the long-spun melody gives way to a contrasting theme of utter peacefulness, initiated by the piano over a murmuring clarinet accompaniment, which returns in a more ornate form in the latter half of what is otherwise a piece that gives the impression of a continuous, meditative improvisation.
The third movement is a Brahmsian intermezzo par excellence – a waltz of infinite gracefulness, whose easy-going atmosphere of charm is scarcely ruffled by a slightly more athletic trio section. As if all this were in danger of becoming too much of a good thing, Brahms abbreviates the reprise of the opening material, and then adds a quiet coda in a slower tempo as though to recall the calm conclusion of the opening movement.
In view, no doubt, of the intimate character of so much that has preceded it, the finale is a muscular piece with more than a tinge of the gypsy style which had fascinated Brahms so much throughout his life. Nevertheless, falling thirds are everywhere in evidence – not only in the rondo theme itself, but also in a passage following its varied return, where Brahms has them descending in a continuous chain through a span of two octaves – first in the cello, then the clarinet. This time, however, there is no question of a subdued close. Instead, the music gathers force and brings the work to an end of altogether symphonic weight.
Source: Misha Donat, 1998 (hyperion-records.co.uk)
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
♪ Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op.114 (1891)
i. Allegro [0:10]*
ii. Adagio [7:42]
iii. Andante grazioso [15:28]
iv. Allegro [20:13]
Andreas Ottensamer, clarinet
Sol Gabetta, cello
Dejan Lazić, piano
Hochrhein Musikfestival, Kurbrunnensaal, Rheinfelden, Switzerland, September 30, 2015
* Start time of each movement
Born in 1989 in Vienna, Andreas Ottensamer comes from an Austro-Hungarian family of musicians and was drawn to music early, receiving his first piano lessons when he was four. At the age of ten he began studying the cello at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, then changed to the clarinet under Johann Hindlerin in 2003.
Andreas Ottensamer gained his first orchestral experience as a deputy in the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic and as a member of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester. In 2009 he interrupted his Harvard studies to become a scholar of the Orchestra Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic. He is now the principal clarinettist of the Berlin Philharmonic.
Ottensamer has won first prize in competitions for clarinet, cello and piano, and performs as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the world with orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, the Rotterdam Philharmonic and the Kammerphilharmonie Bremen under Sir Simon Rattle, Yannick Nezét-Séguin, Andris Nelsons, Pablo Heras-Casado and Alan Gilbert. His artistic partnerships as chamber musician include work with Murray Perahia, Leif Ove Andsnes, Leonidas Kavakos, Janine Jansen, Sol Gabetta and Yo-Yo Ma, and together with pianist José Gallardo he is artistic director of the Bürgenstock Festival in Switzerland.
In February 2013 Andreas Ottensamer entered an exclusive recording partnership with Deutsche Grammophon, making him the first ever solo clarinettist to sign an exclusive agreement with the Yellow Label. His second album "Brahms - The Hungarian Connection" won the Echo Klassik Award for Instrumentalist of the Year 2015.
In February 2017 his new album "New Era" was be released by Decca Classics. In 2005 Andreas Ottensamer founded the clarinet trio The Clarinotts with his father Ernst and brother Daniel, both principal clarinettists of the Vienna Philharmonic. A CD of the trio was released in 2016 by Deutsche Grammophon.
A highlight of this season will be the Europakonzert of the Berlin Philharmonic, in which Andreas Ottensamer will perform Carl Maria von Weber's Clarinet Concerto No.1 under Mariss Jansons.
Born in 1981 in Villa María, Sol Gabetta is an Argentine cellist. The daughter of Andrés Gabetta and Irène Timacheff-Gabetta, she has French and Russian ancestry. Her brother Andrés is also a musician, a baroque violinist.
Gabetta began to learn violin at the age of three, and cello at age four. She continued to study both instruments until age eight, and then switched her focus exclusively to the cello. She won her first competition at the age of 10, soon followed by the Natalia Gutman Award. Her teachers include Christine Waleska, Leo Viola, Ivan Monighetti, Piero Farulli and Ljerko Spiller.
Gabetta won the Crédit Suisse Young Artist Award in 2004. In 2006, she founded her own festival, the Festival Solsberg. Her debut with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle was at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival in 2014. Her debut with the Staatskapelle Berlin occurred in December 2014. She was Artist in Residence at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in summer 2014, and also held artistic residencies at the Philharmonie and Konzerthaus Berlin. She was awarded the Herbert von Karajan Prize at the Salzburg Easter Festival in 2018.
Other prizes have included the Gramophone Award for Young Artist of the Year in 2010 and the Würth-Preis of the Jeunesses Musicales in 2012. At the Echo Klassik Awards, she received the award in 2007, 2009 and 2013, being named Instrumentalist of the Year in 2013. She received the Diapason d'Or for her recordings of Haydn, Mozart and Elgar cello concertos, as well as works by Tchaikovsky and Ginastera. Gabetta has made commercial recordings for Sony and Deutsche Grammophon.
Contemporary composers who have written music for Gabetta include Michel van der Aa, who composed Up-close for Gabetta and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, and Pēteris Vasks, who wrote his cello concerto "Presence" for Gabetta. In November 2015, Gabetta's album of the music of Vasks, Presence, was released, which includes the cello concerto "Presence", and "Musique du Soir" for organ and cello, for which daughter and mother perform together.
Supported by a private stipend from the Rahn Kulturfonds, Gabetta performs on a cello by G. B. Guadagnini dating from 1759. She resides in Switzerland and has been teaching cello at the Basel Music Academy since 2005. She is also a regular presenter for the programme KlickKlack, for Bavarian Radio (BR-Klassik).
Born in 1977 in Zagreb, Dejan Lazić is a Croatian pianist and composer, and a naturalised Austrian citizen. He has appeared with such orchestras as the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony, Bamberger Symphoniker, Swedish Radio, Danish National, Helsinki Philharmonic, Australian Chamber Orchestra and NHK Symphony Orchestra, working with such conductors as Iván Fischer, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Giovanni Antonini, Kirill Petrenko, Robert Spano and John Storgårds.
Lazić made his BBC Proms debut in summer 2011, performing two concerts; once with BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, to give the UK premiere of his own arrangement of the Brahms Violin Concerto for piano and orchestra and again to perform Liszt with Budapest Festival Orchestra and Iván Fischer. Further performances with BFO/Fischer in the current season include dates in Budapest and on tour in Gent, Milan and at the Beethovenfest Bonn. He appears also with the Kammerorchester Basel, performing at the Vienna Konzerthaus, Hamburger Philharmoniker at Hamburger Ostertöne festival, Trondheim Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic and, further afield, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, plus Pacific and Atlanta Symphony Orchestras.
Lazić appeared in the Far East with orchestras such as NHK Symphony Orchestra, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra (including concerts at Tokyo's Suntory Hall and Metropolitan Art Space), Sapporo Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, as well as a series of recitals throughout Japan and at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, China. In summer 2008 he performed Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto at the Beijing Great Hall of People in a televised pre-Olympics gala concert for an audience of 7,000.
Alongside his solo career, Lazić is also a chamber musician. Recently Artist in Residence with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, he has given recitals at Amsterdam Concertgebouw, London Queen Elizabeth Hall, Munich Prinzregententheater, Washington Kennedy Center, plus in Montreal, Tokyo, Beijing and Istanbul.
He records for Channel Classics and has released a dozen recordings so far, including works by Scarlatti/Bartók and Schumann/Brahms, all as part of his Liaisons series; the next in the series will couple together CPE Bach/Britten. His live recording of Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 with London Philharmonic Orchestra and Kirill Petrenko received the German Echo Klassik Award 2009. His latest release is a disc featuring Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto, recorded live with the Australian Chamber Orchestra led by Richard Tognetti.
Lazić is also active as a composer. His works include various piano compositions, chamber music and orchestral works, as well as cadenzas for Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven piano concertos. His arrangement of Brahms's Violin Concerto for piano and orchestra was premiered with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Robert Spano in 2009 and further performances this season, in addition to BBC Proms, will include at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw and in Japan. A live recording of the concerto was released in January 2010. Currently he is working on his own Piano Concerto.
Born into a musical family in Zagreb, Croatia, Lazić grew up in Salzburg, Austria, where he studied at the Mozarteum. He now lives in Amsterdam.
Johannes Brahms: Clarinet Quintet in B minor – Gil Shaham, Michael Dinnebier, Gunter Teuffel, Marin Smesnoi, Dirk Altmann (HD 1080p)
Johannes Brahms: String Quintet No.2 in G major – Members of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra (HD 1080p)
Johannes Brahms: Sonata for piano and violin No.2 in A major – Yuja Wang, Leonidas Kavakos