Piano Trio No.2 "In the Form of a Suite", Op.98
Vincent d' Indy's Second Piano Trio certainly sounds like the work of a young man, but at the time it was composed, he was seventy nine years old. D'Indy's style underwent a considerable change in the years following his retirement and move from Paris to the south of France. Here, he composed a series of works which are straight forward, youthful in spirit and generally bright and gay in mood.
The full title of this work is Piano Trio No.2--"In the Form of a Suite". And it is in the great classical tradition of the 17th and 18th century baroque French suite, albeit, in an updated style and neoclassical tonalities. The opening movement, Entreé, en sonate, is based on a bright, optimistic melody. The following Air begins with a slow, slightly disjointed melody and resembles an intermezzo which mixes charm with slightly grotesque but wonderfully contrasting interludes. Next comes a Courante, slow and in the form of a lament. As it progresses, vague hints of the baroque can be heard in its tonalities. The finale, Gigue en rondeau, as the title implies is a lively, heels up in the air, dance in which all three instruments are so cleverly intertwined that they seem as one instrument.
Vincent D’Indy (1851-1931) was born of aristocratic stock. His musical talent was recognized by his grandmother who raised him and saw that he received piano lessons from famous teachers. Despite this, he was sent to law school in Paris. Instead, D’Indy, who was intent on becoming a composer, joined a Parisian orchestra as a timpanist to learn music “from the ground up.” Both Massenet and Bizet were impressed by his early compositions and encouraged him to show his work to César Franck. Franck did not share their enthusiasm and was reputed to have told D’Indy, “You have ideas but you cannot do anything.” Apparently those ideas were enough, however, to convince Franck to show D’Indy how to do things, as he took the latter on as a pupil. Though D’Indy was to assimilate and be influenced by many different sources, Franck and his music left the most telling mark on him. D’Indy’s reputation, during his own lifetime was considerable, having founded, in 1900, what was to become the most important music school in France after the Paris Conservatory—The Schola Cantorum.
This one of the best French works from the neo-classical period, a work which will surely appeal to both professionals and amateurs not to mention audiences who are lucky enough to hear it in concert.