31 March 2018
The Märchenerzählungen, Op 132, for clarinet, viola and piano, another of Schumann’s miniature suites, is one of Schumann’s very last works, composed during October 1853, when his increasing mental fragility and proneness to depression were temporarily alleviated by the visits of Joseph Joachim and the twenty-year-old Johannes Brahms. The four ‘fairy tales’ are testimony to Schumann’s fondness for the picturesque and the fanciful, though he left no clue as to their content.
Watkins: Speak Seven Seas
Huw Watkins was Composer-in-Residence at Musik im Kraftwerk Heimbach Festival where in 2011 the world premiere of his Speak Seven Seas, a trio commissioned for the occasion, was a festival highlight. The work for clarinet, viola and piano takes its title from a line in Dylan Thomas' Author's Prologue and received its first performance by clarinetist Sebastian Manz, violist Florian Dondrer and the composer himself on piano at the Heimbach power station.
Bruch: Selections from Eight Pieces
Bruch was over 70 when he wrote these pieces; their autumnal nature isn't surprising, given the composer's age and the fact that his form of Romanticism was being displaced by more innovative techniques. Each of these items is a character piece, although they carry no titles more descriptive than tempo indications. All but the seventh are in minor keys, and are designed to draw the mellowest sound possible from the instruments.
Mozart: Kegelstatt Trio
Because of his extraordinary legacy of concertos for piano, we might assume that Mozart participated in performances of this unusually scored work by playing the piano, but the viola part was the one the composer wrote for himself which he completed in August of 1786.The lyrical quality of the clarinet, a comparatively new wind instrument at that time had charmed Mozart sufficiently that many of the works from that period included clarinet parts. There is an unconfirmed legend that Mozart composed this trio while visiting what we would term a bowling alley, but that dubious honor may be more properly ascribed to a set of duos for basset horns, K. 487. It must be admitted, however, that the nickname has made the trio stand out from its fellows.