String Trio No.2 in c minor, Op.85 No.2
For Violin, Viola & Cello
This is the second of a set of three mid-romantic period string trios composed by Hermann Berens during the summer of 1871.
Hermann Berens (1826-1880) was born in Hamburg and studied piano and composition in Carl Gottlieb Reissiger who was the music director and chief conductor in Dresden. During this time, Reissiger employed Wagner as his second conductor. Although Berens undoubtedly got to know Wagner well, there is nothing of Wagner in Berens’ music. Rather, Mendelssohn and Schumann served as his models. spent most of his life in Sweden eventually becoming the director of a prominent Stockholm music drama theater and a professor at the Stockholm Conservatory. In addition to his chamber music, he wrote several operas in Swedish and a considerable amount of piano music
Besides the piano, Berens also was proficient on the violin and the trios reveal the hand of an experienced string player. String Trio No.2, Op.85 No.2 is the only one of the three trios composed in the minor. The opening, Allegro agitato, to Op.85 No.2 in c minor is superb. Filled from the first notes with emotional tension the composer is able to deliver on the captivating first subject. The string writing throughout this big, exciting movement is masterful. Especially noteworthy is the soft Mendelssohnian ending, reminiscent of the Hebrides Overture. This is followed up by a lovely, primarily pastoral Andante con moto. This is also a very effective movement which is not really slow although there is a kind of drag to it. The third movement, Allegro patetico, is full of forceful forward propulsion. The naive trio, provides a striking contrast and features a sweet country dance melody. The exciting finale, Allegro vivace, is sure to please any audience which gets the chance to hear it.
This trio as well as its mates, showing the influence of Mendelssohn and Schumann as they do, are an important addition to the string trio repertoire since there is really nothing else from the mid-romantic period of this excellence. We have reprinted the original edition but have added rehearsal numbers. Op.85 No.2 belongs in the recital hall and most certainly on the stands of amateur trio groups.