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8.555700 - SCHUBERT: Piano Trio No. 2 in E-Flat Major / Sonatensatz
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Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 100, D. 929 • Sonatensatz in B flat major, D. 28

 

Franz Schubert was born in 1797, the son of a Vienna schoolmaster, and had his education, as a chorister of the Imperial Chapel, at the Stadtkonvikt. Both at school and at home he had an active musical life as a player and as a composer, and when his voice broke and he was offered the means to continue his academic education, he decided, instead, to train as a teacher, thus being able to devote more time to music. By the age of eighteen he had joined his father in the schoolroom, while continuing to compose and to study with the old Court Kapellmeister Antonio Salieri. In 1816 he moved away from home, lodging with his new friend, Franz von Schober, thus released for the moment from the drudgery of teaching. The following years found him generally in the company of friends, with an occasional return to the schoolroom, when necessity dictated, showing there no great talent or interest in his task.

Schubert's brief career continued in Vienna and while there were occasional commissions and some of his works were published, there was never the opportunity for the kind of distinguished patronage that Beethoven had had and still enjoyed, nor the possibility of an official position in the musical establishment of the city. It was March 1828 before Schubert was able to take the risk of a concert devoted to his work, an event that proved both successful and profitable, but by the autumn his health had weakened, the consequence of a venereal infection contracted six years earlier. He died on 19th November.

The Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, D. 929, with Piano Trio No.1 in B flat major, D. 898, and the posthumously published Notturno, D. 897, were probably written late in 1827. It has been suggested that the Notturno, a single Adagio movement, was originally intended as the slow movement of Piano Trio No. 1, and the dating of the paper used supports this view. The second of the two completed piano trios, a work for which Schumann expressed a general preference over the first of the two, finding it more spirited, masculine and dramatic in tone, was first performed at a private party in January 1828 to celebrate the engagement of Schubert's school-friend Josef von Spaun and formed part of the public concert of Schubert's music in March. It was given its first private performance by the pianist Karl Maria von Bocklet, with the violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh and the cellist Josef Linke. At the public concert in March Schuppanzigh, who was indisposed, was replaced by the violinist, Josef Böhm. The trio was published by Probst in Leipzig, the first of Schubert's compositions to attract the attention of a foreign publisher, in October 1828. For the published version Schubert cut 99 bars from the last movement. These are retained in the present recording.

The first movement starts with an immediate call to our attention and a first subject of dramatic outline leads to a more lyrical second theme, introduced by the cello, closely followed by the violin. The thematic material of the exposition is duly explored in the central development with its shifts of key, followed by a recapitulation. The C minor slow movement has a melody that Schubert's friend Leopold von Sonnleithner later reported as that of a Swedish folk-song. This has now been identified as 'Se solen sjunker' (The sun is down). The use of canon in the Scherzo, as violin and cello enter in imitation of the piano, has its precedents, not least in Haydn. The A flat major Trio which it frames brings dynamic contrasts. The final Allegro moderato, with its now repeated exposition and extended development, is introduced by the piano with a lilting melody. The movement includes a contrasting secondary theme, first appearing in C minor, and reminiscences of the folk-song of the slow movement, before its brilliant conclusion.

The so-called Sonatensatz, D. 28, a B flat major movement for piano trio, was written between 27 July and 28 August 1812. The first of these dates comes the day after Schubert had appeared for the last time as a choirboy in the Imperial Chapel, singing alto in a Mass by Peter Winter. While the breaking of his voice ended his time as a chorister, it would have been possible for him to continue his academic education at the Stadtkonvikt, an option he rejected the following year. In June he had embarked on lessons with the old Court Kapellmeister, Antonio Salieri, and these lessons were to continue until 1816, having a marked influence on the form that Schubert's many songs were to take. 1812 seemed to mark a burst of creativity. Now fifteen and released from the routine of a chorister, Schubert was writing string quartets, church music and songs, with exercises in counterpoint and in Italian word-setting for Salieri. The movement for piano trio, which shows remarkable assurance, is, as its usual title implies, in sonata-allegro form, written, perhaps, to be played with his young fellow-musicians at school, rather than in the more limited course of family music-making at home.

Keith Anderson


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