String Trio in D Major, Op.5 No.1
For Violin, Viola & Cello
At a time when Beethoven and his music were entirely unknown in France, Alexandre BoŽly (1785-1858) was holding up Beethoven's Op.9 Trios composed in 1799 as his model. In 1808, when this trio was first published as one of a set of three, no one in France was writing string trios. BoŽly was clearly an extraordinary man who truly marched to his own drum beat. Such independence of thought and taste led to his losing a prestigious position as an organist in one of France's leading churches for championing the music of Bach.
Today, BoŽly is remembered as one of France's greatest organists from the first half of the 19th century. He was born at Versailles into a family of musicians. He excelled on the organ and piano and most of his compositions are for these instruments. However, he did write five string trios and four string quartets, which are among his most interesting works.
While his String Trio No.1 in some respects recalls Beethoven's Op.9 trios of a decade earlier, it also contains some very original and forward looking music and is written on a much larger scale, so much so, that it could well have been called "Grand Trio." The size and scope of the opening Adagio introduction to the first movement is truly extraordinary. Highly dramatic, it creates a sense of unease which is only dispelled by the appearance of the brighter and energetic Allegro. The Allegretto grazioso which follows begins inauspiciously, but very quickly turns into both an exciting and lyrical piece of music with very telling use of pizzicato and lengthy double stops to create an bagpipe effect. There is no slow movement, and for the third movement, we are given a first rate Scherzo allegro with a finely contrasting lyrical trio. The exciting finale, Allegro assai, with which BoŽly tops off this trio, quotes a theme from Beethoven's Op.9 No.2, but he gives it an entirely different treatment.
Here is a fine work from the late classical and early romantic period which will certainly be a welcome addition to the string trio repertoire.