Piano Trio in b flat minor, Op.5
Emil Bohnke's Piano Trio in b flat minor was published in 1920 but it was composed several years before that judging from its style, which can be characterized as very late Romantic. He combined late Romanticism with slight touches of Reger in his earlier works which cover the period 1908-1916. Later he was influenced by the impressionists.
Emil Bohnke (1888-1928) was born in the Polish town of Zduńska Wola to German parents. He attended the Leipzig Conservatory where he studied violin with Hans Sitt and composition with Stephan Krehl and then moved to Berlin where he took further lessons from Friedrich Gernsheim. He pursued a career as a conductor, composer and teacher. During his lifetime (he died tragically in 1928 with his wife in an automobile accident) his music was held in high regard and received frequent performances. But because he married Lili von Mendelssohn, a great granddaughter of Felix Mendelssohn, his music, like that of other composers who either were Jewish or had Jewish relations was banned during the Nazi regime and soon forgotten as a result.
In three movements, the work opens in a dark, brooding fashion despite the fact that the movement is marked Feierlich, doch fliessend (solemn but flowing). A second theme is somewhat lighter though certainly not upbeat. The impressive and highly original middle movement, Langsam mit grossem Ausdruck (slow with great expression) is a kind of funeral march. Lightening bolts of passion, from time to time, briefly break through the tonal gloom. At last, in the finale, Frisch bewegt (fresh, lively) the sun breaks through the heavy, dark clouds of the earlier movements as light and playful themes carry the music forward.
This is truly a highly original and, in our opinion, important work. Tonally, approachable, but because of the key, clearly, at times, extending the boundaries of traditional tonality, this trio deserves concert performance where it will make a lasting impression, but it is only of average difficulty and as such should also be sought out by amateurs. Long out of print, we are very pleased to make it available once again.