by Nat Frothingham
At its final concert of the 2017–2018 season, Capital City Concerts will be presenting three chamber music masterpieces. One of the masterpieces on the program is the Horn Trio in E-flat major, Op. 40 composed by Johannes Brahms in 1865.
Brad Gemeinhardt, who is third horn for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, will perform on the horn in the Brahms’ Horn Trio. In a recent phone conversation with The Bridge, Gemeinhardt expressed his admiration for the Brahms Horn Trio. He noted the huge number of chamber music pieces written for stringed instruments. But it was Brahms who was the first to write a chamber music piece for horn, violin, and piano.
“It inspired many later pieces,” Gemeinhardt said. “But I believe it is the first.”
Gemeinhardt was an elementary school child, when he first became attracted to the horn. His mother was a junior high band director, he related. “In the fifth grade I would go to the band room after school.” And he found that the horn was “the easiest instrument for me to make a sound on.”
As early as the eighth grade, Gemeinhardt was becoming interested in the playing the horn as a career. He remembers first hearing the Brahms’ Horn Trio at about that time, and said, “I remember getting my parents to buy me a recording of it and listening to it over and over again.
The Brahms Horn Trio had a special significance for Johannes Brahms. Said Gemeinhardt, “The third movement of the Horn Trio was written just after Brahms’ mother died. And if you listen to the third movement, it’s one of his great movements. It’s very somber and dark. Then suddenly everything opens up and it becomes, just for a minute, joyous. But it quickly returns to the darkness he experienced when his mother died.”
In his phone conversation with The Bridge, Gemeinhardt drew attention to the sound produced by a trio consisting of a French horn along with the violin and piano. “The tone qualities work well together,” he said. “Combining the horn with the piano and violin, it’s pretty extraordinary what [Brahms] did with the piece,” he said.
That final concert will be performed on Saturday, April 21 at 7:30 pm. at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier.