Piano Trio No.3 in b minor, Op.1 No.3
"Franck composed four piano trios when he was young. At the time (1843) they created tremendous excitement and today (1937) are still quite interesting."—–Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Handbook for Piano Trio Players.
César Franck, even today, is fairly well-known, not only as the father of modern French music, but also for his Symphony in d minor. His chamber music, unfortunately, has in modern times been unjustly shoved to the side and forgotten. Franck (1822-1890) was, during his lifetime also known as one of the best organists in the world. He was also a piano virtuoso and in later life as a professor at the Paris Conservatory became an important teacher. Among his many students were Vincent d'Indy and Ernest Chausson.
As Altmann notes, the trios were highly thought of when they came out. Mendelssohn praised them and Franz Liszt took it upon himself to introduce them on the concert stages of Germany. This Third Trio opens with a powerful set of triplets first heard in the piano and then the cello over an urgent lengthy melody in the violin. This dramatic effect is reminiscent of Schubert’s Earlkonig. The movement proceeds in a relentless fashion, only periodically interrupted by less turbulent sections, but on the whole is a riveting and stormy affair. The middle movement, Adagio-Quasi allegretto, is really two movements rolled up into one. The Adagio, is sweet and peaceful and could almost be styled a lullaby. The Quasi allegretto is march-like but is quite interesting in that long-lined string melodies underpinned by the marching rhythm create a rather original effect which is followed by a dramatic reprise of the theme from the adagio which is played over a tremolo accompaniment. The big finale, Poco lento—Moderato ma molto energico—opens quietly but with a long crescendo in the strings to soft short notes in the piano. The whole effect creates a rather mysterious and ominous atmosphere. The introduction which leads to the main section that is energetic and thrusting.
This trio has been out of print for more than a century. We have reprinted the original edition but have added rehearsal numbers. A powerful work sure to triumph in the recital hall.