Edition Silvertrust
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Anton Arensky

Anton Arensky (1861-1906)

Nationality: Russian
Born: July 12, 1861, Novgorod Died: February 25, 1906, Terioki, Finland (now Zelenogorsk, Russia) (age 44)

Piano Trio No. 1 in d minor, Op. 32

(for violin, cello and piano)
10:53 I. Allegro moderato
5:58 II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
6:24 III. Elegia. Adagio
6:23 IV. Finale. Allegro non troppo
Duration: 32 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1894 (age 32-33)
Premiere: . Probably December 1894 in Moscow or St. Petersburg with Jan Hrímaly, cello, Anatoly Brandukov, and Arensky on piano
Published: 1894, Moscow: P. Jurgenson (age 32-33)
Dedication: To the memory of Karl Davidoff
10 recordings, 37 videos
autoopen autoplay
12:21
Zukerman Trio
I. Allegro moderato
5:28
Zukerman Trio
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
6:15
Zukerman Trio
III. Elegia. Adagio
6:11
Zukerman Trio
IV. Finale. Allegro non troppo
12:43
Beaux Arts Trio (score)
I. Allegro moderato
6:06
Beaux Arts Trio (score)
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
6:46
Beaux Arts Trio (score)
III. Elegia. Adagio
6:05
Beaux Arts Trio (score)
IV. Finale. Allegro non troppo
13:38
Trio Enescu
I. Allegro moderato
6:17
Trio Enescu
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
6:50
Trio Enescu
III. Elegia. Adagio
6:42
Trio Enescu
IV. Finale. Allegro non troppo
8:54
Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky, Leonard Pennario
I. Allegro moderato
5:34
Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky, Leonard Pennario
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
5:37
Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky, Leonard Pennario
III. Elegia. Adagio
5:27
Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky, Leonard Pennario
IV. Finale. Allegro non troppo
11:54
Arensky Trio
I. Allegro moderato
5:55
Arensky Trio
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
5:54
Arensky Trio
III. Elegia. Adagio
6:02
Arensky Trio
IV. Finale. Allegro non troppo
12:27
Nash Ensemble
I. Allegro moderato
6:08
Nash Ensemble
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
7:25
Nash Ensemble
III. Elegia. Adagio
6:17
Nash Ensemble
IV. Finale. Allegro non troppo
28:33
Meyers, Tsang, Nel
13:15
Claremont Trio
I. Allegro moderato
6:19
Claremont Trio
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
6:58
Claremont Trio
III. Elegia. Adagio
6:04
Claremont Trio
IV. Finale. Allegro non troppo
9:02
Cardenes, Solow, Golabek
I. Allegro moderato
5:55
Cardenes, Solow, Golabek
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
6:01
Cardenes, Solow, Golabek
III. Elegia. Adagio
5:42
Cardenes, Solow, Golabek
IV. Finale. Allegro non troppo
13:34
Bekova Sisters
I. Allegro moderato
6:13
Bekova Sisters
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
7:08
Bekova Sisters
III. Elegia. Adagio
6:50
Bekova Sisters
IV. Finale. Allegro non troppo
From Kai Christiansen

Anton Arensky (1861-1906)

Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 32 (1894)

Anton Arensky Anton Arensky was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor of the late Romantic period who, for context, was a generation younger than Tchaikovsky and a generation older than Stravinsky. A child of musical parents, he attended the St. Petersburg conservatory studying under Rimsky-Korsakov among others. He became a professor of harmony and counterpoint at the Moscow conservatory where his own students included Scriabin and Rachmaninoff. In Moscow, Arensky befriended Tchaikovsky who would exert a noticeable influence on Arensky’s style. A subsequent appointment at the Imperial Chapel resulted in pension that enabled Arensky the freedom to pursue composing and a successful touring career as both pianist and conductor. Apparently burdened by an addiction to alcohol and gambling, Arensky died of "dissolution" at the relatively young age of 44. His musical legacy chiefly comprises at least one successful opera, 2 symphonies, 2 concerti, choral and piano works and an admirable cache of chamber music works. One occasionally hears his fine string quartet with 2 cellos but his unquestionable “greatest hit” is the popular Piano Trio No. 1 in d minor.

It was Arensky’s mentor Tchaikovsky who established an influential tradition of Russian elegies for piano trio with his monumental trio of 1882 dedicated to the celebrated pianist and co-founder of the Moscow Conservatory, Nikolai Rubinstein. Upon the death of Tchaikovsky a decade later, a young student named Serge Rachmaninoff composed his second Trio élégiaque in his honor. The following year, Arensky composed his trio to the (belated) memory of the celebrated Russian cellist Karl Davidoff who died in 1889. One might also look as far forward as 1944 when Shostakovich dedicated his second piano trio to the Russian musicologist Ivan Sollertinsky. Each of these trios is strongly marked by the presence of a dark elegy: sorrowful and even funeral music in honor of the dead.

The romantic character and technique of Arensky’s trio suggests the influence of Schumann and especially Mendelssohn whose trio in D Minor immediately comes to mind. As with Mendelssohn, Arensky’s first movement features finely articulated lyrical themes, an intricate, full texture and a steady, flowing momentum. The cello introduces nearly every theme throughout the entire trio in what would appear to be a direct tribute to Davidoff. Despite its “softening” from its initial minor key into the relative major, the first movement ends in definite sorrow as the first theme’s main motif rises in a chaste, plaintiff premonition of the third movement elegy to come. Far from the French Menuet or even a muscular scherzo alla Beethoven, the second movement is a waltz glittering with elegance, theatrical poise and, in the trio, genial and melodious warmth. To begin, a delicate, almost whimsical gesture from the violin is answered by a torrent of notes from the piano, a wonderfully theatrical call and response. Pizzicato, unresolved arabesques and the sparkling high register of the piano create a charmed atmospheric introduction promising great expectations until, finally, the cello begins the dance soon engaging its violin partner.

The stunning third movement Elegia is the heart and soul of the trio, its raison d'être. The piano intones the grave, iconic rhythm of the funeral march as a muted cello sings its sorrowful first theme. Both violin and cello are muted giving the music a hushed, almost unspeakable poignancy like grief stuck in one’s throat. But equally characteristic of most musical elegies is a second theme, bright, hopeful and nostalgic as a memory of happier times. Gentle, spacious and with ever upward reaching modulations, the music is literally uplifting culminating in the soaring heights of the violin. This is a particularly magical movement of the trio that will recur again, briefly, in the finale. The more tumultuous character again suggesting Schumann or even Brahms pervades finale with a stormy bravado as a rondo refrain juxtaposed with contrasting episodes that literally and figuratively operate as memories. One is a recall of the luminous “nostalgia” theme of the Elegia whose rising modulations that are ultimately grounded by a recall of the original first movement theme, familiar but weary with sadness and suddenly swept away forever by a final gust of fate.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.

From Edition Silvertrust

Anton ArenskyAnton Arensky (1861-1906) was born in Novgorod but his family moved to St. Petersburg while he was still relatively young. His first piano lessons were from his mother. He entered the Petersburg Conservatory in 1879 and three years later graduated with high honors. Among his principal teachers was Rimsky-Korsakov. He subsequently taught at the Moscow Conservatory where he befriended and was influenced by Tchaikovsky and Sergei Taneyev.

Piano Trio No. 1 in d minor, Op. 32 was dedicated to the memory of the legendary Russian cellist, Karl Davidoff, director of the St. Petersburg conservatory during Arensky’s time there as a student.

The opening, Allegro moderato, is a big movement built around three themes and opens with a very dramatic subject, clearly influenced by Tchaikovsky, featuring triplets in the piano to a singing melody in the violin, which immediately captivates the listener. It appears throughout the movement including in the coda at the end when it is played adagio as a valedictory. The second subject, presented first by the cello, has the quiet, yet effective elegance of a simple song and a mood of hope. In the second movement, Scherzo-Allegro molto, the strings are given a sparse, though telling, theme which is played against a fleet and running part in the piano. The contrasting trio features a superb waltz, slavonic in nature, and one of many which this composer wrote. It became known as a typical example of “The Arensky Waltz.” The third movement, Elegia - Adagio reaches the heights of lyricism. The lovely sad opening melody is passed from the muted cello, to the muted violin and then to the piano and back again. It is a personal and intimate dialogue between the instruments, evocative of the composer’s friendship with Davidoff. The explosive and dramatic finale, Allegro non troppo, makes brilliant use of themes from the preceding Elegia as well as those of the first movement.

This is unquestionably a masterpiece which should be a staple of the repertoire and heard in concert. Amateurs will be very glad to make its acquaintance.

© Edition Silvertrust. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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