3rd Concert -

Mon 29.8

The music of Erich Korngold, one of the most impressive child prodigies ever born, isn’t heard that often, at least in Greece. But its beauty is such that no one who experiences it can come away unmoved! His Piano Quintet, written at a time when Korngold was at the height of his popularity, radiates grace and delicacy alongside its irrepressible virtuosity. The concert also features a performance of Brahms' youthful and hugely popular First Trio by the Trio Zimbalist, in the final form the composer bestowed on it in the last years of his life.

JOHANNES BRAHMS - Piano trio no. 1 in B major, opus 8

Mario Montore - Piano
Josef Špaček - Violin
Timotheos Gavriilidis-Petrin - Cello

ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD - Piano Quintet in E major, opus 15

Titos Gouvelis - Piano
Noe Inui - Violin
Iason Keramidis - Violin
David Bogorad - Viola
Angelos Liakakis - Cello

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Minoa Chamber Music Festival - JOHANNES BRAHMS -


When Robert Schumann met the twenty-year-old Brahms in the autumn of 1853, he was unreservedly appreciative of his talent and foresaw a bright future for his young colleague. One of the most ambitious and inspired works from this early period in Brahms’ career, and a piece which certainly justifies Schumann's admiration, was a Trio with piano in B major, a rather unusual key at the time for a major, multi-movement work. The Trio was completed and published the following year (1854), receiving the opus number 8. However, the perfectionist composer had begun to express doubts about several of his thematic and structural choices even before the work was published. (That he consented to significant cuts being made to the first movement’s development section for a performance in Vienna in 1871 is indicative of this dissatisfaction.) Thirty-five years later (1889), in the light of a new edition of the work to be published by Simrock, Brahms decided to undertake a major revision of the Trio. He drastically reduced its overall length, radically altered the central sections of every movement (except the scherzo), and replaced some themes with new ones. However, given that the youthful first version had long been part of the concert repertoire, he did not withdraw it, thinking it best to let the two versions coexist. With his trademark humour, he often remarked that in its revised version, the Trio was more Opus 108 than Opus 8! Over the years, the original version fell into obscurity, while the clearly more mature second version has justly risen to prominence.

The first movement opens with one of the most beautiful melodies the composer was ever inspired to write, which is played on the piano (in its low and middle range) and the cello, before the violin joins in and sweeps the theme up to its sensual climax. The second theme is markedly more dynamic, virtuosic and rhythmically energetic. The scherzo has the nervy lightness of touch we find in similar movements by Mendelssohn, with the trio section releasing the tension momentarily with a tender and somewhat nostalgic waltz. The Adagio opens with a sequence of slow powerful chords on the piano, to which the two strings respond with enigmatic, fleeting gestures. Along the way, the cello presents a new lyrical idea that is developed in the movement’s middle section. The finale is in B minor and hyper-dramatic—an element some have linked to Schumann's tragic nervous breakdown and attempted suicide (February 1854). Then, breaking the unwritten rule that a work that begins in a major key must also end in one, the Trio comes to close in B minor, leaving a sense of breathtaking tragedy in its wake.


1. Allegro con brio 2. Scherzo: Allegro molto 3. Adagio 4. Finale: Allegro

Minoa Chamber Music Festival - ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD -


A compositional prodigy of rare talent, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, the son of the influential music critic Julius Korngold, grew up in Vienna, where he earned the admiration of the Viennese public and great composers including Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss by writing works of unimaginable maturity from a very early age. He proved his ability to write long lyrical melodies, and to support them with sensual harmonies, while still young, chiefly in his sensational operas which enjoyed triumph after triumph in the lyric theatres of central Europe. Of his operas, the most celebrated and successful was The Dead City, which he completed in 1920 and would prove a huge success worldwide for almost a decade. Korngold tended to turn his compositional talents to chamber music after he had completed a large-scale works (such as an opera), and this is what happened in this case: having finished The Dead City (early in 1921), he immediately began work on his First String Quartet and Piano Quintet. The latter received its first public performance in Hamburg on 16 February 1923, played by the Mairecker-Buxbaum Quartet with the composer at the piano.

The Piano Quintet, which is rightly regarded to this day as one of Korngold's most charming works, is inextricably linked to the composer's love for Luise (or Luzi, as she was known) von Sonnenthal.The composer's parents’ opposition to the match meant the two young people were forced to spend long periods away from each other, and Korngold channelled his fiery passion and their struggle to overcome external obstacles into the Quintet, which, with its exuberant organic writing and unfailingly sensual harmonic narrative, is awash with vitality, desire and—at times—melancholy. Not coincidentally, the slow second movement is a series of nine free variations on a theme from the song Mond, so gehst du wieder auf ["O moon, you rise again"], part of the Abschiedslieder ["Songs of Farewell"] song cycle (opus 14) which Korngold wrote in 1920, and which also expresses his love for Luzi.

Erich and Luzi were finally married in April 1924. The Quintet was published shortly afterwards and dedicated to the great Austrian sculptor (who had lost his hearing in childhood) and friend of the composer, Gustinus Ambrosi (1893-1975).


1. Mäßiges Zeitmaß, mit schwungvoll blühendem Ausdruck (Moderate timing, with a lively, blooming expression) 2. Adagio Mit größter Ruhe, stets äußerst gebunden und ausdrucksvoll (Adagio: with the greatest ease, always extremely committed and expressive) 3. Finale: Gemessen, beinahe pathetisch (Finale: measured, almost emotional))

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