The CMNZ Regional Series is supported by The Deane Endowment Trust Artist Development Fund
THE MORTON TRIO
Arna Morton, violin
Alexander Morton, horn
Liam Wooding, piano
Liam Wooding appears courtesy of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM).
DAVID RINIKER arr. | Selections from Velvet Valves 20’
RICHARD BISSILL | Valse Noire for Horn & Piano 8’
BRITTEN | Three Pieces from Suite for Violin & Piano, op. 60 12’
BRAHMS | Horn Trio in E-flat Major, op. 40 30’
DAVID RINIKER (1970—), arr. | Selections from Velvet Valves
DEBUSSY: Clair de Lune
When programming concerts for the horn trio genre, it quickly becomes apparent that a rather large chasm exists in the repertoire between Brahms’ pioneering work and the many modern compositions it has inspired. To help address this issue, horn player Sarah Willis of the Berlin Philharmonic and Horn Hangouts YouTube stardom commissioned the curation and arrangement of romantic classics from an orchestra colleague, cellist David Riniker. Velvet Valves is the result, and it makes a delightful entrée to Brahms’ iconic trio.
RICHARD BISSILL | Valse Noire for Horn & Piano
Richard Bissill has held positions with both the London Symphony and the London Philharmonic, and is currently horn professor at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He is also known for his involvement in jazz performance, working alongside the likes of Quincy Jones & Wynton Marsalis. Valse Noir, aka “Black Waltz” was written in 2006 for Nigel Black & Vladimir Ashkenazy and is a kind of parody on the genre, featuring smoky, sensual harmonies embodied with a jazzy flair. It allows horn players an opportunity to play in a style not often explored in the standard horn repertory but one that suits the nature of the instrument beautifully.
BENJAMIN BRITTEN (1913–1976) | Three Pieces from Suite for Violin & Piano, op. 6
Written in his early twenties, Britten’s Suite for Violin and Piano, op. 6 is one of the last of his “younger” works. He gave the first live performance with Spanish violinist Antonio Brosa at the 1936 International Society for Contemporary Music Festival in Barcelona. In his final year of life, Britten requested this Three Pieces edition be created, omitting the Introduction and Moto Perpetuo movements.
While the three contrasting movements each embody a youthful innocence, they also feature a glimpse of Britten’s mature compositional aesthetic, with moments of deep, intrapersonal contemplation contrasted against arguably satirical political statements. The March is evocative of playful, schoolyard games, with cheeky banter and subtle “teasing” between the two instruments. The Lullaby is more introspective and melancholic in nature, with moments of overt expression breaking through emotional stagnancy. The Waltz, much like Richard Bissill’s Valse Noir and Ravel’s infamous La Valse, is a farce on the genre, evoking a playful “middle-finger” to Bourgeois society.
JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833–1897) | Horn Trio
Allegro Con Brio
Brahms found solace in nature, and following the death of his mother 1865, he retreated to the countryside to grieve and heal. There, he composed the Horn Trio in E-flat Major. The first-movement theme is contemplative, already conceived during his nature walks in the Black Forest near Baden-Baden. While less pastoral, the second and fourth movements still feature a connection to the outdoors, with fanfares resembling “the hunt” that forefront the heroic characteristics of the horn.
For a work written at such a tragic time in Brahms’ life, most of his Horn trio in Eb Major feels surprisingly optimistic. The exception is the poignant third movement: it has been suggested that this movement is a lament to Brahms’ late Mother. Even so, it is overall emotionally reserved and restrained, in keeping with his conservative compositional style. In contrast to the overt romanticism embodied by his contemporaries, such as Wagner and Liszt, Brahms guarded his musical expression within a cocoon of classical structure, so as not to expose his heart too blatantly. This reflected his natural inclination towards privacy and solitude in life, possibly stemming from the years of traumatic abuse experienced in his youth.