Piano Trio in f minor, Op.14
Georgy Catoire (1861-1926) is generally considered the father of Russian modernism. His Piano Trio dates from 1900 and one can clearly hear how advanced it is for its time.
He was born in Moscow to a French noble family which had emigrated to Russia in the early 19th century. Although fascinated by music, he studied mathematics and science at the University of Moscow, graduating in 1884. After graduation, however, he decided to devote himself to music. His early compositions showed the influence of Tchaikovsky who described Catoire as talented but in need of serious training. Eventually Catoire was to study composition with Rimsky-Korsakov, Lyadov, Arensky and Taneyev. In 1916, he was appointed Professor of Composition at the Moscow Conservatory, a position he held for the rest of his life. Catoire wrote several treatises on music theory, which became the foundation for the teaching of music theory in Russia. His composition style was a synthesis Russian, German and French influences--Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Cesar Franck, Debussy and Richard Wagner were the chief influences. From them, Catoire developed a highly personal and original idiom. His championing of Wagner is partially responsible for the fact that his works are relatively unknown today. Rimsky-Korsakov's circle disliked Wagner's music intensely and did little to promote it. This resulted in its being barely known in Russia. They also shunned Catoire’s music because he was a Wagnerite.
The opening movement, Allegro moderato, begins with a beautiful but dark theme which is quickly soars to a climax before falling back only to build to another climax, this time of great drama. The middle movement, Allegretto fantastico, is a scherzo. The main theme is restless, in part because of the unusual meter Catoire uses. The middle section is in five beats and appears based on Russian folk music. The music of the magnificent finale, Molto allegro agitato, is highly intense and driven with incredible forward motion, a real tour de force.
This trio is unquestionably a first rate work for the concert stage. Professionals who present it are assured of a triumph. Experienced amateurs of good technical ability will also treasure this fine piece. As so many other fine works, this trio has been out of print for nearly a century. We are proud to reintroduce it.