Miniatures for Horn Trio with Music from Salem

HORN TRIO ?4:00 pm • Sunday, July 9th 2017
Hubbard Hall • Cambridge, NY

The summer music season is really getting underway and choices abound…this is especially so for opera. Opera Saratoga opened this past weekend to rave reviews. The Seagle Music Colony has begun with its offerings, and the Glimmerglass Festival fires up its season this Friday night. Meanwhile, in my delightful little world of chamber music, Music from Salem continues at Hubbard Hall on Sunday afternoon with a program featuring the rare, but interesting Horn Trio.

Hmmm… the Horn Trio?  Yes … the Horn Trio … the combination of the French horn, violin, and piano. I wasn’t aware much had been written for this instrumentation. Well in some digging, indeed not much has been written for the horn, violin, and piano. The most significant horn trio is by Johannes Brahms with his Trio in E-flat major (Op. 40) written and premiered in 1865. Before that there seems to be only two others, one by Jan Ladislay Dussek in 1809 and Carl Czerny in 1827; interestingly enough also in E-flat major. But, the Brahms seems to be the seminal work in generating some interest in this sonic combination.

Jump to November 2014, and we find the Red Hedgehog Trio (the horn trio who has chosen its name in a nod to Brahms’ and his favorite Viennese coffee house, Zum Roten Igel, translated “The Red Hedgehog”) putting out a call for miniature works—two minutes or less—for horn, violin, and piano. From a pool of over 130 submissions from around the world, ten trios by ten composers were selected to create a collection called “10 X 10 set” as the project was conceived and developed for the 10 X 10 Upstreet Arts Festival, a collaborative arts event held annually in Pittsfield, MA.

Now, let’s bring this back to Sunday afternoon’s concert at Hubbard Hall. Music from Salem, with two wonderful French horn players in the mix, Eli Epstein, former Cleveland Orchestra member and promising artist of international repute Jennifer Robbins, will be featuring seven of the horn trio miniatures from the Red Hedgehog’s 10 X 10 set:

It is interesting that Probyn Gregory (yes, of the Beach Boys) notes his work, Almost There, “was written thinking about my mother Mary Gregory. She and I both favored the number 7, thus the number of notes in the primary arpeggios…” Brahms, it is said, wrote his horn trio to commemorate the death of his mother in early 1865.  Not sure if there is purpose in all of that or if it’s just a coincidence. Regardless…

You’ll want to know the following is to be the full Music from Salem on Sunday’s program:

  • W.A. Mozart — Divertimento No. 15 in B-Flat Major for 2 horns and strings,“Lodron Serenade,“ No. 2, K. 277
  • Gregory, Greene, Turcotte, Hahn, Farmakis, Atlas, and SeinerSeven New Miniatures for Horn Trio
  • Johannes Brahms — Piano Quartet in A Major, Op. 26

The Music from Salem performers are: Eli Epstein and Jennifer Robbins, French horns; Judith Eissenberg and Sharan Leventhal, violins; Lila Brown, viola; Scott Kluksdahl, ‘cello; Nathan Varga, bass and Judith Gordon, piano.

Noticing that Brahms is on the program with a piano quartet and not the horn trio, I wondered why. Artistic Director Lila Brown responded that Piano Quartet in A Major was a work that was on the “do list” (to paraphrase), and the magnificent Mozart divertimento is as “rich as a violin concerto and is a piece which doesn’t get performed in the chamber version often. The horn trio miniatures definitely need to be launched into the world and are a wonderful addition to the horn chamber music repertoire.”

Well, one can’t argue with that. It should be a delightful summer afternoon performance, and I hope you get to go. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the Brahms Horn Trio in E-flat major and wish you all happy musicking in the days ahead!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply