Along with the two major works for the unusual combination of horn, violin and piano, this disc also brings together a rather incongruous pair of composers: Johannes Brahms, generally regarded as the great traditionalist of the late 19th century, and György Ligeti, born 90 years after Brahms, and one of the most innovative and progressive figures of his time. Why Brahms chose to compose for this previously unheard-of combination of instruments is not known – what we do know is that he himself played the horn in his youth, and that it had also been a principal instrument of his father. It is also generally recognized that although the inspiration for the piece came to him in 1864, the death of his mother the following year had a great impact on the piece, and especially on the elegiac third movement, Adagio mesto (‘sad’), possibly one of Brahms’s most intimate and heart-felt slow movements. Ligeti composed his trio to be performed during the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Brahms’ birth and gave it the subtitle ‘Hommage à Brahms’, but also commented that ‘the only thing reminiscent of Brahms is perhaps a certain smilingly conservative comportment – with distinctly ironic distance’. There are nevertheless points of similarity – both works are in four movements, for instance, and Ligeti too includes a slow movement, Lamento, of an emotional expressivity unusual for this composer. The two trios frame a substantial, newly composed piece for horn solo written by Kalevi Aho with the present recording in mind. Marie-Luise Neunecker, who performs it and the demanding horn parts of the trios, needs no further introduction: acclaimed as a chamber musician as well as soloist it was for her that György Ligeti wrote one of his last works, the Hamburg Concerto for solo horn and chamber orchestra. On this disc she is in the company of the eminent musicians Antje Weithaas and Silke Avenhaus, both appearing for the first time on the BIS label.
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