April 16, 2012. Two Trios by Schubert. In Schubert’s time the piano trio was a very popular form: home music making was common, and many pieces, originally written for the orchestra, were often arranged to be played on three instruments: the violin, cello, and piano. And of course by then a large volume of music was already written specifically for the trio. Haydn, the pioneer, wrote 45 of them, Mozart wrote six, Beethoven, in addition to arranging two of his symphonies, also wrote several trios, including the famous "Archduke." Schubert composed two of his trios at the very end of his short life. He started both of them in 1827, the year when, in an immense burst of creativity, he wrote several masterpieces, including the song cycle Winterreise, the last three piano sonatas, the Mass in E-flat Major, and the String Quartet D. 956. It is thought that the first trio, the one in B Major, was finished in 1828, the year of Schubert’s death; it wasn’t published till 1836. The listener might not guess that this bright, lively and utterly charming piece, about which Robert Schumann said, “One glance at Schubert's Trio and the troubles of our human existence disappear and all the world is fresh and bright again," was written almost at the same time as the tragic Winterreise, and by a severely ill composer. The trio is in a classical four-movement form (Allegro, Andante, Scherzo, Rondo); it is performed here by the Tecchler Trio (Benjamin Engeli, piano, Esther Hoppe, violin, and Maximilian Hornung, cello).
The second trio, in E-flat Major, D.929, was written in November of 1827, just weeks after the first one. Schubert heard very few performances of his last compositions, but this one he did, as it was played in January of 1828 at a private party for his good friend, Josef von Spaun. Very different in tenor than the sunny B-flat Major trio, it is much more dramatic and moody. Stanley Kubrick, the movie director, brilliantly used the second movement of the trio, Andante con moto to create an unsettling, anxious atmosphere of his film Barry Lyndon. The complete trio is performed here by Bella Hristova, violin, Dane Johansen, cello, and Adam Golka, piano.
(Illustration: Schubert at the piano, Gustav Klimt, 1899. At that time Klimt was havinig a love affair with the young Anna Schindler who was soon to become Anna Mahler)
Copyright 2008-2010 Classical Connect, LLC