Piano Trio No.1 in f minor, Op.1
Although Volkmar Andreae's First Piano Trio bears the opus number of 1, it was by no means his first work. It was the first work that he chose to publish and though it is full of youthful vigor, it is also that of a mature composer. It made a deep impression upon its release in 1901 and received many fine reviews but sadly was ignored for after the First World War.
Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962) was born in the Swiss capital of Bern. He studied at the Cologne Conservatory under Carl Munzinger and after a short stint at Munich working as an opera coach, he moved to Zurich where he lived for the rest of his life, becoming one of the most important figures on the Swiss musical scene. From 1906 to 1949, he was conductor of the renowned Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and headed the Zurich Conservatory from 1914 to 1939. He conducted throughout Europe as was regarded as one of the foremost interpreters of Bruckner. In addition to his work as a conductor and teacher, he devoted considerable time to composing. While his works received praise from contemporary critics, like those of so many other modern composers, his works were not given a place in the standard repertoire.
The language of Piano Trio No.1 is very late Romantic or post-Romantic, much in the way that Dohnanyi's early works are. It begins with a powerful Allegro. The composer takes us to a remarkably expressive tonal world, fresh sounding and original. The music is given an expressive sense of forward motion which is in part created by the compelling development section. The middle movement, Adagio, is of the sort Brahms might have written had he lived another ten years. The beautiful opening theme bears a distant relationship to the opening theme of the trio, heard in the Allegro. The middle sections is a very original scherzando. The hand of Brahms can be felt in the finale, Allegro ma non troppo. Though it is unhurried, nevertheless, there is an undercurrent of urgency. A lovely second theme provides excellent contrast.
This first rate work, which never got the hearing it deserved. For its time and type it is a masterwork. Out of print for the better part of a century, we are pleased to bring it back and hope that both professionals and amateurs will make its acquaintance.