Franz Schubert

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Nationality: Austrian
Born: January 31, 1797, Vienna Died: November 19, 1828, Vienna (age 31)

Piano Trio in E-flat major, Op. 148, D. 897, Notturno

(for violin, cello and piano)
Duration: 10 minutes (approximately)
Composed: (?) 1827-1828 (age 29-31)
Published: 1846
12 recordings, 12 videos
Altenberg Trio
Gordan Nikolić, Sietse-Jan Weijenberg, Lucas Jussen
Beaux Arts Trio
Tetzlaff, Hecker, Helmchen
Suk Trio
Stuttgart Piano Trio
Rubenstein Trio
Lumiere Trio
Haydn Trio Eisenstadt
Eggner Trio
Dumay, Lodéon, Collard
From Kai Christiansen

Franz Schubert, 1797-1828

Notturno in E-Flat Major, Op. 148, D. 897, 1827-1828

Franz Schubert Schubert’s extraordinary “final year” is a well-promoted fact of his short but immensely fruitful career as a composer with some noted commentaries calling it a great miracle of Western Art Music. Between 1827 and 1828, the apparently herculean Schubert produced a canon of masterworks comprising his final piano sonatas, the two massive piano trios and the ineffable string quintet among other things. In the chamber music in particular, Schubert expresses a truly grandiose conception of music that oscillates between extreme poles of euphoria and despair with both modes ennobled by sumptuous lyricism, perfection of ensemble and color laid out in epic proportions to be savored slowly and carefully. One literally thinks of Schubert’s final year as an exalted state of levitation.

When Schubert tied, he left reams of unpublished and unfinished music; most it took decades to emerge. One such sublime treasure is the so-called “Nocturne” in E-Flat, a single movement for piano trio that Schubert simply titled “adagio” but to which a later publisher attached the more Romantic, trendy sobriquet. Compared with the wide-ranging drama featured in the major works from his final year, this lone slow movement is more singled minded, more happily confined to the bright side of Schubert’s spectrum, and with its pervasive gentle serenity, it easily suggests the dreamy notion of a nocturne. But Schubert effectively wields contrast (and tension) between two sub-moods of the brighter side: elegant repose and raging triumph, first Mozartian, then Beethovenian, but so vividly in Schubert’s own voice and style. Unique to Schubert is the slow, mesmeric quality of his shining themes, the perfectly placed surprising harmony, the subtle shift of texture and color for variation within repetition, and the miracle of such a nuanced beauty from ostensibly simple means. It is a supreme meditation. The music strongly reflects the incandescent voice of Schubert’s last year and it is now thought that this slow movement was the first candidate for the Piano Trio in B-Flat Major, ultimately rejected by Schubert in favor of the more famous replacement we have come to cherish. This nocturne intimately part of the same world, a small jewel whose facets clearly reflect the larger picture.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Johann Hummel (1778-1837)
Nationality: Austrian
Born: November 14, 1778, Pressburg (now Bratislava) Died: October 17, 1837, Weimar (age 58)