REINECKE Carl, Trio for Oboe, Horn & Piano Op.188

Allegro moderato
Scherzo. Molto vivace
Allegro ma non troppo

Carl Reinecke was born near Hamburg, in the town of Altona – which was part of Denmark until 1864. As a young man he worked as court pianist for King Christian VIII in Copenhagen, before moving to a series of jobs in Germany. In 1860 he was appointed director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and professor of composition and piano at the Leipzig Conservatoire, and he remained an important musical force in Leipzig for the next 35 years. Despite his activities as a conductor, pianist and teacher, Reinecke was a prolific composer. Many of his works from the 1880s are groups of short piano pieces and songs, but among the more substantial compositions from this time are two important chamber works: the ‘Undine’ Sonata for flute and piano, and the Trio Op.188 for oboe, horn and piano. Its very unusual scoring suggests that Reinecke wrote the Trio for two specific players in the Gewandhaus Orchestra. It was first performed in the Gewandhaus on 22 November 1886 by the oboist Gustav Hinke, horn player Friedrich Gumpert and Reinecke himself as pianist. Gustav Hinke was principal oboe of the orchestra and was the dedicatee of another trio for the same combination by Heinrich von Herzogenberg (written in 1889) as well as of Reinecke’s own Octet (1892). Friedrich Gumpert was first horn in the Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1864 until 1898. The musical language of Reinecke’s Trio suggests a composer who was a contemporary and friend of Johannes Brahms (Reinecke conducted the first complete performance of Brahms’s German Requiem) but it’s also distinctive: Reinecke writes beautifully for his unusual ensemble, and the long melodic horn line – later taken over by the oboe – in the slow movement is particularly memorable, while the major key finale includes some splendidly idiomatic writing (hunting-horn rhythms and lyrical oboe phrases) that make for a stirring conclusion.

Nigel Simeone © 2010


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