Brahms Piano Trio Op. 8 – Naomi Roseth write about one of her favourite pieces of music.
Back at the 2012 Sydney International Piano Completion I attended the semi-finals in which competitors were required to choose one of a given list of piano trios. Brahms’ Piano Trio Op. 8 was on the list and was the choice of several of the competitors. I did not know the piece, but I remember that at the sound of the first few bars I was totally overcome, tears streaming down my cheeks. I heard the piece perhaps eight times in the course of a couple of days and it has since been one of my very favourite pieces of music. I know it really well.
The other day, with ABC Classic FM on – not an unusual occurrence in my home – my favourite trio was played. I listened and after a few bars I thought I must have made a mistake: this is not ‘my Trio’. But then it became familiar again and throughout the piece some bits were exactly as I knew them, some were totally different and some just similar. I was confused and got quite angry: who thought that they can improve on Brahms’ gorgeous composition? But I listened patiently to the end and then the truth unfolded: Brahms wrote the Trio when he was 22. Some 40 years later he returned to it and changed it quite considerably. We usually hear the mature Brahms version but it takes our ABC Classic FM to expose us to this intriguing piece of history. My anger turned to amazement.