A new album from Sony Classical presents all three piano trios of Johannes Brahms. Pianist Emanuel Ax and cellist Yo-Yo Ma have already won multiple Grammy Awards for their previous Brahms recordings. Here they join violinist Leonidas Kavakos in their first recorded collaboration as a trio.
Johannes Brahms composed his first piano trio in 1854, when he was just twenty years old. He heavily revised the piece near the end of his life, but most performers prefer the first version to its revision.
Brahms composed his second and third trios nearly back-to-back in 1882 and 1883. These later trios would have been composed at the same time as Brahms’s third and fourth symphonies. Brahms, who was usually very modest about his work, boasted to his publisher, “You have not yet had such a beautiful trio from me and very likely have not published its equal in the last ten years.”
Ma, Ax and Kavakos first performed all three Brahms Trios together at the Tanglewood Festival in 2015. In 2018, they will tour the US with the same program. The album includes thoughtful liner notes written by Emanuel Ax.