Brahms wrote this beautiful piece late in his life for his friend, the great clarinetist Mhlfeld from Meiningen, for whom he also wrote the Clarinet Trio and the Clarinet Quintet. Brahms fell in love with the range and colors of the clarinet when played by such an artist. Nevertheless, according to the Brahms biographer Malcolm McDonald, he must have had hopes of a wider acceptance of this work. Brahms made his own viola transcription and allowed his publisher Simrock to publish a version for violin.
The reason for this transcription for cello and piano is that this glorious work is only rarely heard, and that the cello brings to it an entirely new sonority and soul. It is hoped that this work will now find a well-deserved place in the still scant cello repertoire.
The premiere was on March 14, 2008 at Harry Wimmer's New York Symphony Space Thalia Theater concert with the assistance of the marvelous pianist Eduard Laurel.
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