String Trio in E flat Major, Op.90
Antoine Bessems (1806-1868) was born in Antwerp, at the time part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, then under French control. Bessems entered the Paris Conservatory, studying the violin with Pierre Baillot. After graduating, he pursued a career as a performer, mainly in Paris. He also served as conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Antwerp for a number of years. His last years were spent in Paris where he became a prominent teacher and performer. Today he is remembered primarily for preserving the score to a mass by his friend Berlioz. But during his lifetime, he was well-known and on friendly terms with most of Franceís important composers, including Saint-Saens, who dedicated a violin sonata to him. Bessems wrote a considerable amount of music in most genres. Chamber music, church music and music for voice were the main compositional focus.
The String Trio in E flat Major, Op.90 was published in 1866, but despite its late opus number, it was almost certainly composed some decades earlier. Judging from its style, one might well conclude it was composed in the 1820ís or 1830ís. The work, which Bessems called "Grand Trio", is, for its time, quite substantial and in five movements. As one might expect from a string player, Bessems displays an excellent understanding of the instruments and writes quite well for each of them. The huge opening movement (our soundbite presents less than a third of it) begins with a solemn and stately Grave introduction, which immediately captures the listener's attention. The main part of the first movement is a lively and upbeat Allegro vivo. Next comes a muscular Scherzo. A charming Andante con moto, somewhat in the form of a serenade, with simple but lovely melodies follows. Bessems surprises by inserting a Tempo di Menuetto rather than proceeding directly to the finale. This is an old-fashioned traditional minuet. The finale, Allegro, begins in rousing style but soon we hear the influence of Rossini and the introduction of Italian vocal type melodies.
Out of print for well over a century, we have reprinted the 1866 Schott edition, correcting mistakes and adding rehearsal numbers. We believe that string trio groups will find this work a valuable addition to their repertoire and collections.