Trio for Piano, Violin, and Horn in E-flat major, Op. 40
Related Artists/CompaniesJohannes Brahms
About the Work
An elegiac mood pervades much of the Horn Trio. Brahms composed it in the spring of 1865, shortly after the death of his mother, and may have intended it, at least in part, as a wordless requiem. In setting the general mood, which is characterized by great intimacy, the opening movement is an Andante instead of the usual Allegro, and the third movement, which bears the funereal marking Adagio mesto, includes an outright quotation of the old German funeral chorale "Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten" (used also by Bach in his funerary cantata of the same title, BWV 93, and in four different chorale preludes for organ).
Various nature pictures are also evoked by the horn, and the listener is reminded that thoughts of nature and of death were closely intermingled in Brahms's personal outlook. The elegiac cast, it must be emphasized, is one of gentle melancholy rather than lamentation, and in fact scenes of the hunt are among the outdoorsy images suggested in the vigorous scherzo and finale. In the scherzo the elegiac mood reasserts itself in the trio section (which resembles somewhat the posthorn solo in the third movement of Mahler's Third Symphony, still more than thirty years in the future when this work was composed), but in the finale sheer exuberance prevails.