Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel
Piano Trio in d minor, Op.11
It was ironic that Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel's family took her Piano Trio in d minor to the publishers Breitkopf and Härtel after her death for they had all but forbidden her to publish works while she was alive.
Fanny (1805-1847) was Felix Mendelssohn's older sister, the family's first born child. She enjoyed the same musical education and upbringing as her brother, including studying with such teachers as Ignaz Moscheles. Like Felix, Fanny showed prodigious musical ability as a child both as a pianist and also as a budding composer. However, the prevailing attitudes of the time toward women limited her opportunities. Her father warned her that while Felix could become a professional musician if he chose, she could not do so herself. Except for Felix, her entire family opposed her dreams of a career as a concert pianist or even as a composer. Ironically, Felix, as well as many others, considered her an even better pianist than he. In 1829, after a courtship of several years, Fanny married the painter Wilhelm Hensel who, unlike her parents, encouraged her to compose. A few of her songs and small piano pieces began to receive public performances.
Her Piano Trio dates from 1846 and was completed shortly before her death. In four movements, the opening Allegro molto vivace, begins with a flowing, restless accompaniment in the piano over which a beautiful, broad melody of yearning is sung by the strings. The gorgeous second movement, Andante espressivo, though very romantic, is introspective and reflective in mood. Fanny subtitled the third movement Lied (song in German) and indeed this lovely little Allegretto is a charming Song Without Words of the sort Felix made famous. The finale, Allegro moderato, has a lengthy piano introduction before the strings finally join in. The somewhat heavy, Hungarian-sounding theme has a sad but not quite tragic aura to it. Cross rhythms and a the second theme serve to lighten it.
Here is a lovely mid romantic trio with many fresh ideas. It is a pity that it has never received the audience it deserves. Our edition is based on the Breitkopf edition of 1854. We hope that by making it available, it will find a place on the music stands of both professionals and amateurs.