This piece completes a trio of trios for mixed ensemble begun in 1994 with one for clarinet, viola and piano (the Mozart combination) and continued in 2010 with one for horn, cello and piano (not quite the Brahms). I'd long intended to write also for this combination, and did so with pleasure for the premiere in the Master's Lodge of Trinity College, Cambridge. The trio was commissioned by the College to celebrate Martin Rees' and Caroline Humphrey's time in the Lodge, and their contribution to the College's musical life.
The attraction and challenge in all three trios is of opposites and complements of wind and string instruments that nevertheless share the same tessitura. Clarinet and viola, horn and cello, oboe and violin, all intertwine in the same space rather than, as in the standard piano trio with violin and cello, standing mainly for high and low.
There are four movements:
I andante con moto calmo
long lyric exchanges and overlappings on the two melody instruments, against a murmuring background of piano.
II adagio espressivo
III scherzino : motlo allegro
serious ascending and descending scales on the two melody instruments, separated by solemn chords on the piano: initially far removed from the preceding material, but climaxing in a return of the first movement's key and closing in a much altered reminiscence of its curving contours.