24. October
Slovenian Philharmonic, Marjan Kozina Hall, Ljubljana



French horn, violin, and piano
Sunday, 24 October 2021, at 11.00 a.m.
Slovenian Philharmonic, Marjan Kozina Hall

Mihajlo Bulajić, French horn
Benjamin Ziervogel, violin
Klemen Golner, piano


Carl Reinecke, Trio for oboe (violin), horn, and piano, Op. 188
Johannes Brahms, Trio for piano, violin, and horn in E-flat MAJOR, Op. 40

Hornist Mihajlo Bulajić, violinist Benjamin Ziervogel, and pianist Klemen Golner, three excellent musicians, all members of the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, will open the third concert with two chamber masterpieces for a so-called “horntrio” ensemble pertaining to the permanent repertoire of compositions from the Romantic period. The compositions Trio in A Minor, Op. 188 by Carl Reinecke and Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 40 by Johannes Brahms, although very popular among musicians, are still rarely included in the programmes of chamber music concerts.

Carl Reinecke, born in Hamburg, lived and worked when the Romantic era was in full swing. He studied under esteemed musicians such as Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt. He taught composition at music conservatories first in Cologne and then in Leipzig, where he would remain for 35 years. Some of his most renowned students include Edvard Grieg, Max Bruch, Isaac Albéniz, Leoš Janáček, Johan Svendsen, and Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis. Reinecke was a multitalented musician: as a pianist, he partook in numerous concert tours and was deemed a true master of interpreting the music of Mozart; he conducted the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra for more than three decades, and also dedicated a great deal of his time to composing. His oeuvre comprises more than 250 compositions, predominantly of an instrumental character.

Trio for Oboe, Horn, and Piano, Op. 188, composed in 1886, is one of Reinecke’s fully mature works, in which a resemblance to the music of Johannes Brahms can be observed. It may have been Brahms’s “Horntrio in E-flat Major” that inspired Reinecke to choose the combination of French horn, oboe, and piano. He intended equal roles for all the instruments, in superb interplay between the piano, French horn, and oboe, which pass to one another the themes in an intricate dialogue. Another common characteristic of both compositions is a four-partite design with very similar tempo markings and typical dramatic peaks, which interchange with lyrical yearning, especially in the first movement, Allegro moderato. The second movement – the playful Scherzo with a Molto vivace tempo is the shortest and liveliest of all. However, the third movement, Adagio, is completely different: very melodious, introspective, and imbued with a hint of a peaceful still life, which then builds in intensity through the middle of the movement, and ends by returning to the calm, opening atmosphere. The conclusion is the rapid Finale: Allegro ma non troppo, with the character returning to the quick vivaciousness of the second movement.

About two decades before (in 1865), Johannes Brahms composed his Horntrio in E-flat Major in commemoration of his mother Christianne, who had passed away that year. The entire composition, which marks the end of Brahms’s early period in the field of chamber music, seems to be imbued with sentimentality – the composer’s nostalgic gaze into his youth – which is expressed differently in each of the four movements. His gaze into the past is expressed through an interesting slow-fast-slow-fast order of movements, by which Brahms moved away from his typical baroque sonata cycle form, and flirted with the old baroque form of sonata di chiesa. The opening Andante movement introduces the main theme based on an E-flat major overtone series and occurs throughout all movements, sometimes more and sometimes less noticeably. It is interesting that Brahms prescribed for this piece the natural horn, without valves, which must be in memory of his youth, when his father, a professional hornist, played such instrument and also acquainted the young Johannes therewith. The second movement is the vivacious Scherzo, with a great deal of virtuosity intended for the natural horn. The central trio includes a slower section with distant hints of rustic melodics and a Ländler rhythm, while in terms of content the movement presents the composer’s happy memories of his childhood, i.e. events with his mother. The most sombre and also emotionally expressive element is the slow Adagio mesto, acting as the third movement. Its contemplative mood makes it one of the most touching and sensual musical sections in Brahms’s entire oeuvre. It is a deep bow to his deceased mother, an elegy into which Brahms implemented the theme of the German folk song entitled There among the Willows Stands a House, which his mother sang to him in his childhood. Trio for Horn, Violin, and Piano, Op. 40 by Johannes Brahms is rounded off by the joyful Finale, symbolising the end of mourning, recovery after a great loss, and an optimistic outlook on the future.

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