William Sterndale Bennett
Chamber Trio in A Major, Op.26 for
Violin, Cello & Piano
Hailed as charming and a highly effected work by Cobbett’s Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music, Bennett’s Chamber Trio was completed in 1839 after a lengthy visit to Germany and much time spent with his friend Mendelssohn, then generally considered Europe's greatest living composer. It was hardly surprising that the first work Bennett composed upon his return to England, his Piano Sextet, reflected Mendelssohn's influence. This influence is far less apparent in the Chamber Trio. Of note is the fact that Bennett did not simply title the work Piano Trio but added the word Chamber. Why? Because Bennett wanted performers and listeners to have no doubt that this was an intimate work, a true chamber work and not a concert piece intended for a large hall of the sort in which orchestras perform. The first two movements, Andante tranquillo and Serenade, make this abundantly clear for they are both soft, and though full of charm, their intimate nature makes it highly unlikely that they would make much of an impression in a large hall. Only in the fiery and energetic finale does the mood change while at the same time retaining the lyricism of the preceding movements.
William Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875) was born in English city of Sheffield, the son of an organist. He studied piano and composition at the Royal Academy of Music. He met and befriended Mendelssohn, who first heard him perform in London when Bennett was 17. His piano technique was such that during concert tours in Germany, he quickly gained the reputation as one of the finest pianists in Europe. Robert Schumann praised his playing and musicality quite highly. Bennett settled in London, devoting himself chiefly to teaching, eventually becoming a Professor of Music at Cambridge University. He also served as chief conductor of the London Philharmonic and later as Director of the Royal Academy of Music. Owing to his professional duties, his latter years were not creatively fertile, and what he then wrote was scarcely equal to the productions of his youth. The principal charm of Bennett's compositions (not to mention his absolute mastery of the musical form) consists in the tenderness of their conception, rising occasionally to the sweetest lyrical intensity. Except for opera, Bennett tried his hand at almost all the different forms of vocal and instrumental writing.
Out of print for more than a century, we have reprinted the original and have added rehearsal numbers. This is a fine work, sure to please and not at all difficult to play.