from Michelle Ferguson, Chamber Music Amici
The great German composer Johannes Brahms was born in 1833, making 2023 his 190th anniversary.
On Dec. 10 and 11, Chamber Music Amici will celebrate Brahms 190, a concert featuring one of his first works and one of his last works, at the Wildish Community Theater, 630 Main Street, Springfield.
On Sunday, Dec. 10, the pre-concert talk by Dr. Terry McQuilkin starts at 2:15 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, with the concert at 3 p.m.
On Monday, Dec. 11, the pre-concert talk starts at 6:45 p.m., with the concert at 7:30 p.m.
Chamber Music Amici is a local performing arts organization committed to making classical music accessible to all, especially children and families. They have community-wide programs to ensure that everyone, regardless of background or financial means can experience the transformative power of music.
Chamber Music Amici offers $5 tickets for students and accompanying adults and free post-concert desserts. The Dec. 10-11 desserts are offered by the award-winning bakery Sweet Life Patisserie.
Johannes Brahms’s Piano Trio in B major, op. 8, features the musicians Sunmi Chang, violin; Steven Pologe, cello; and Eunhye Grace Choi, piano.
In its original version, the Piano Trio illustrates both the youthful composer’s earnest ambitiousness and his relative inexperience. A work of remarkable heft, it requires nearly 50 minutes to perform, while secondary melodies – some borrowed from earlier composers – do not always fit seamlessly into the musical fabric.
The 20-year-old composer began sketching the Trio in the summer of 1853, and completed it in January of the following year. Brahms revised the work in 1889. “I did not provide it with a wig,” he waggishly claimed, “I just combed its hair a little!”
Reducing the number of measures by more than one third, Brahms excised many of the secondary ideas found in the earlier version, replacing them with material more effectively integrated into the musical rhetoric. The result is a work that is not only more concise (1,170 measures versus 1,628 in the original version) but one that flows more organically. Only the Scherzo – already tautly constructed – remained essentially unaltered.
This newer version, the one that is nearly always performed nowadays, received its first performance in Budapest in January 1890.
The Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115, features the musicians Wonkak Kim, carinet; Sunmi Chang, violin; Sofie Yang, violin; Lillie Manis, viola; Steven Pologe, cello; and Eunhye Grace Choi, piano.
In 1891, a few months after Brahms indicated that he intended to retire from composing, he heard the self-taught clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld, and was immediately captivated by his mellifluous sound.
This seems to have rejuvenated Brahms’ creative energy; he composed the first two of a series of great chamber works for clarinet: The Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, op. 114 and the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 115. The Quintet premiered in December of that year.
Thus Mühlfeld inspired Brahms much in the way that Anton Stadler had inspired Mozart, who a century earlier had written a clarinet concerto and a quintet for the same instrumentation.
Eunhye Grace Choi is artistic director for Chamber Music Amici.
For tickets and information, visit chambermusicamici.org.