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"the kreutzer sonata"

Tolstoy at the Sea_edited.jpg


Johannes Brahms

Intermezzo in A major, Op. 118, No. 2

Clara Schumann

Piano Trio in G major

  1. Allegro moderato

  2. Scherzo – Trio – Scherzo

  3. Andante

  4. Allegretto

Robert Schumann

Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 63

  1. Mit Energie und Leidenschaft

  2. Lebhaft, doch nicht zu rasch

  3. Langsam, mit inniger Empfindung

  4. Mit Feuer


Leoš Janáček

String Quartet No. 1, "Kreutzer Sonata" (arr. piano trio)

  1. Adagio – Con moto

  2. Con moto

  3. Con moto – Vivace – Andante – Adagio

  4. Con moto – Adagio – [Maestoso]


about this program


There are a lot of reasons to question the legacy of Tolstoy's novella, "The Kreutzer Sonata." It tells the story of a bitter man who, fueled by the spurious assumption that his wife is having an affair with her music teacher, rushes to judgement and fatally stabs her in a fit of jealous rage. It is written in the style of Tolstoy's didactic late period, during which he preached ideals including complete chastity and abstinence. In recent years, counter-stories by Tolstoy's wife, Sofia, have been exhumed to undo the message of Tolstoy's original work.

Like Sofia Tolstoy, whose voice was eclipsed by her husband's, Clara Schumann's towering musicianship and influence has since been dwarfed by the legacy of not one man, but two: her husband, Robert; and her friend and rumored lover, Johannes Brahms.

The intention of this program is not to spread gossip. In fact, this program is somewhat of an attempt to turn away from the rumors of Clara's relationship with Brahms, and instead focus on the indelible artistic impact she had on both men. One of the most renowned piano virtuosos of her day, she inspired and premiered works by both Schumann and Brahms, as well as many others. This concert program begins with Brahms's achingly beautiful A major intermezzo, probably written as an ode to Clara (and certainly performed by her). Robert Schumann's first piano trio was inspired by Clara's own G major trio. And so, on the first half of the program Clara is literally caught between — or perhaps holding together — the two men who figured so prominently in her life, and in whose lives she was perhaps the most important influence.


The program concludes with Leoš Janáček's first string quartet, named for Tolstoy's novella, in a rarely-heard version for piano trio. (Consider its inclusion more a celebration of Janáček's incredible composition rather than an endorsement of Tolstoy's wearying morality tale.)

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