Piano Trio No.3 in B flat Major, Op.37
"Whoever would like to play magnificent, tonally brilliant piano trios would do well to turn to those by Woldemar Bargiel. Although he sometimes shares their spirit, he is no imitator of Beethoven or Schumann. He has a great gift for melody and is a master of chamber music style. These trios ought to be welcomed by amateurs and can confidently be relied upon by professionals for success in the concert hall.----Wilhelm Altmann in his Handbook for Piano Trio Players.
Woldemar Bargiel (1828-97) was Clara Schumann’s half brother. Throughout their lives, they enjoyed a warm relationship and thanks to Clara, Bargiel was introduced to both Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn who encouraged him to study at the famous Leipzig Conservatory with two of the leading men of music: Ignaz Moscheles (piano) and Niels Gade (composition). Bargiel held positions at the conservatories in Cologne and Rotterdam before accepting a position at the prestigious Hochschule fur Musik in Berlin where he taught for the rest of his life. Among his many students were Paul Juon and Leopold Godowsky. While Bargiel did not write a lot of music, most of what he composed was well thought out and shows solid musical craftsmanship. His chamber music—he wrote four string quartets, a string octet and three piano trios—represents an important part of his output.
Bargiel’s Piano Trio No.3 in B flat Major, Op.37 dates from 1870. The opening movement, Allegro moderato con grazia, begins a sweet, little dance-like tune. The strings play it with for a bit before the piano enters restating it in a more authoritative framework. The development, a series of scale passages, leads to the highly lyrical second theme. The lovely main theme to the second movement, Andante molto sostenuto, sounds like it was based on a folk melody. It proceeds peacefully, almost dreamily. The second theme has a Schubertian quality and leads to a powerful and dramatic and powerful middle section. The Scherzo, allegro which follows begins abruptly with a series of powerful chords and in fact the main theme has a muscular Brahmsian thrusting quality, while the finely contrasting second theme strikes a sad, pleading note. The trio provides further contrast with a distant, other worldly feel. The finale, Allegro moderato, begins with the cello introducing a highly romantic melody, which the violin and then the piano further develop in turns. The development involves a highly accented rhythmic episode. This in turn leads to the heroic-sounding second theme.
Like his first two trios, this one also belongs in the repertoire and in the concert hall. At the same time, amateurs will greatly enjoy it. Out of print for a century or more, we are pleased to make it available once again.