Josef Bohuslav Foerster
Piano Trio No.3 in a minor
Twenty five years separate Josef Bohuslav Foerster's Piano Trio No.3 in a minor, Op.105 from his second piano trio. He began work on it in 1919 immediately after the death of his son in 1918 and completed it in 1921. By this time, his style had changed considerably from the music he was writing toward the end of the 19th century. Although the trio is written in a post romantic style, it is still entirely tonal. The moods are mostly reflective and introspective. The opening movement, Assai moderato, ma con ardore interno, is complex in texture and polyphony, but the overall feel is elegiac. The middle movement, Andante sostenuto though lyrical, is quiet and meditative. Slowly tension rises to a dramatic climax before calm returns to close it. The finale, Allegro risoluto, begins in brusque fashion but with intense emotion which with its many dramatic climaxes conveys a sense of pathos.
Josef Bohuslav Foerster (1859-1951) was born in Prague and first studied with his father who was a leading organist and Professor at the Prague Conservatory. Foerster studied organ at the Prague Organ School and composition at the Conservatory. Upon graduation he took over from Dvorak as chief organist in one of Prague's leading churches. He was on friendly terms with all of the leading Czech composers and was initially influenced by Smetana and Dvorak. He worked as a music critic in Hamburg after marrying the leading Czech soprano who was engaged at the Hamburg opera. In Hamburg, he met and became close friends with Mahler as well as Tchaikovsky. When Mahler left for Vienna, Foerster followed him and became a professor at the New Vienna Conservatory. After the formation of the Czech Republic in 1918, he returned to Prague where he taught for many years at the Conservatory. His music while initially influenced by Smetana and Dvorak, later changed as did musical styles, although he always remained a tonal composer. After his first period, his works no longer could be considered nationalistic as he stopped employing the idioms of Czech folk music and adopted a more perstonal and mystical style. He composed in most genres and left a considerable amount of chamber music including five string quartets and three piano trios.
This piano trio is an engaging work which deserves concert performance. Unavailable for many years now, we are pleased to make it available once again.