Archive for March, 2009

Dvořák, Piano Trio No. 3 in f minor, Op. 65

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Antonín Dvořák, 1841-1904

Piano Trio No. 3 in f-minor, Op. 65, 1883

Antonín DvořákMany regard Dvořák’s Piano Trio No. 3 in f-minor as a milestone. It is uncharacteristically serious, stormy and fraught with tragic conflict, unusual for a man generally regarded as sanguine, uncomplicated and most un-neurotic. It is supposed that Dvořák was venting his grief after recently losing his mother. But the trio seems to have arisen from another crisis as well: the pleading of friends and colleagues to move beyond his obsession with folk-oriented Slavic nationalism in music, to achieve a more cosmopolitan European style and a reputation beyond provincialism. Yet a third aspect of this turning point was surely Dvořák’s “natural” development: because of or simply simultaneous with these other events, Dvořák, at forty-two, achieved a new level of maturity as a composer. (more…)

Beethoven, Piano Trio No. 2 in G, Op. 1 No. 2

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827

Piano Trio No. 2 in G Major, Op. 1, No. 2, 1794-95

Ludwig van BeethovenIn 1795, a twenty-five-year-old Beethoven decided to publish his very first opus, a set of three piano trios, Op. 1, dedicated to Prince Carl von Lichnowsky. The choice of piano trio was safe and practical. Safe, because the piano trio was thus far a generally lighter genre with a less daunting history than the string quartet. Practical, because Beethoven himself was a brilliant pianist in need of performance material favoring his participation and leadership. Haydn had written a large number of wonderful piano trios that were essentially piano sonatas with string reinforcements. Mozart had written a handful, at least two of them masterworks worthy for three independent players. But both composers wrote trios with three or fewer movements, never exceeding around twenty minutes in length and hardly ever broaching the profundity of their more distinguished genres. With his three new piano trios, Beethoven raised the stakes (more…)

Grieg, Andante con moto in c minor (for Piano Trio)

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Edvard Grieg, 1843-1907

Andante con moto in c minor (for Piano Trio), 1878

Edvard GriegEdvard Grieg is known primarily for his orchestral works, his songs and his numerous piano miniatures. His completed chamber music output was quite small: one complete string quartet, three violin sonatas and a cello sonata. Grieg left a few other salon pieces and two fragmentary works: two movements of an unfinished string quartet and a lone movement for an unfinished piano trio. Grieg’s powerful String Quartet in g minor was completed in 1878 when he was in his mid-thirties. Apparently during the same year he began work on a piano trio but only managed to complete one movement, the Andante con moto in c minor. The manuscript was discovered posthumously by Grieg’s Dutch colleague and close friend of many years, Julius Röntgen. Röntgen was elated by the discovery and communicated his reaction to Grieg’s widow Nina: (more…)