Johannes Brahms admired only a few fellow musicians as highly as he did Robert Kahn, who was thirty years his junior. The fact that Brahms, in great demand as a composer and stingy when it came to giving lessons, discussed Kahn’s compositions and studied the old masters with him documents their great mutual interest. It may also be regarded as a special distinction that Kahn was the only third party in attendance when Brahms presented his late Clarinet Trio op. 114 to Clara Schumann. Lending their support to this forgotten talent, the members of the Max Brod Trio have now recorded his two Piano Trios op. 19 and op. 33 in the finest sound technology.
Here Kahn displays his highly independent compositional mind. The form of his quartets refers more to classical models than to Brahms, while his marked feel for captivating melodies also manifests itself in these works – and especially in the Trio op. 19. This is hardly surprising: at the same time he was composing a considerable number of finely nuanced songs sharpening his sensibility in the lyric dimension. Reviewers from those times, who emphasized the melodious qualities of the trios in flowery metaphors, also found this to their liking. Kahn’s limitation of the trios to three movements leads to a concentration of expression first reached by Brahms in his last works.
When Kahn composed his second Piano Trio op. 33 in 1900, he was already very finely established in Berlin’s cultural life. He associated with Christian Morgenstern and Gerhart Hauptmann, Joseph Joachim was his chamber music partner, and he taught at the Royal Conservatory, where Wilhelm Kempff and Artur Rubinstein later numbered among his students. The funeral march occupying the middle of the three movements is brightened by a hopeful insert; a vibrant finale then leads back to an optimistic mood.
The Max Brod Trio is particularly devoted to intercultural communication between the German, Czech, and Jewish traditions. This new recording continues the ensemble’s successful recording project on audiomax, and once again the finely balanced 3-D sound on Super Audio CD makes for surprising listening pleasure.