Classical Music | Violin Music

Ludwig van Beethoven

Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in B-flat Major, Op. 11  Play

Emily Daggett Smith Violin
Karen Ouzounian Cello
Alon Goldstein Piano

Recorded on 07/10/2011, uploaded on 09/01/2011

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Allegro con brio -- Adagio -- Tema con variazioni. Allegretto

Beethoven’s Piano Trio No. 4 is one of his early chamber works, completed only two years after the three trios of his op. 1. During the 1790s, woodwind instruments enjoyed a particular popularity mostly due to their novelty, and many composers wrote chamber works for the instruments. Consequently, the Piano Trio No. 4 is the only work in Beethoven’s trio cycle to be scored for clarinet, cello and piano. It is also possible to substitute the clarinet with the violin.

The key of the piece is B flat major and was probably chosen to facilitate the technical passages in the clarinet, since the Boehm System would not be developed for the clarinet for another four decades. It is in three movements like the later “Ghost” trio. The first movement begins with a graceful theme and on the whole is much under the shadow of Mozart and Haydn. A brief chorale-like subject is heard in the exposition that is later expanded in the development and combined with the opening chromatic gesture of the movement.

The following Adagio begins with a lyrical melody in the cello and repeated by the clarinet. The finale presents a simple folk-like tune and is a prime candidate for variations. Nine variations and a coda follow the theme. Only the piano is used Variation 1 followed a duet between the clarinet and cello in Variation 2. Variation 4 and 7 are in the tonic minor. Like many of his variations forms, including those of his later period, Beethoven presents the theme in its original form as the last variation. A series of trills in the piano (also a technique used extensively in his later period) leads into the brilliant coda that closes the piece.     Joseph DuBose


Courtesy of the Steans Institute

Steans Music Institute

The Steans Music Institute is the Ravinia Festival's professional studies program for young musicians.