Piano Trio No.2 in E flat Major, Op.22
Eduard Franck's Piano Trio No.2 in E flat Major dates from 1856 and was published in 1859. It was dedicated to his friend Ferdinand Hiller, also a virtuoso pianist, who at the time was director of the Cologne Conservatory where Franck taught and director of the Cologne Orchestra. Despite its dedication, the work is not a vehicle for the piano. To the contrary, the three instruments are all equal partners in so much as is possible in this type of work. The opening movement, Allegro moderato con espressivo, begins in a relaxed somewhat diffident fashion. After further development the music turns both lyrical and dramatic. A Schumannesque Scherzo comes next. The third movement, Andante con moto, is calm and dignified. The finale, Allegro molto, vivace, is lively and playful with touches of Mendelssohn and then a very Beethovian middle section, which in parts almost sounds like a quote.
Eduard Franck (1817-1893) was born in Breslau, the capital of the Prussian province of Silesia. He was the fourth child of a wealthy and cultivated banker who exposed his children to the best and brightest that Germany had to offer. Frequenters to the Franck home included such luminaries as Heine, Humboldt, Heller, Mendelssohn, and Wagner. His family’s financial position allowed Franck to study with Mendelssohn as a private student in Dusseldorf and later in Leipzig. As a talented pianist, he embarked upon a dual career as a concert artist and teacher for more than four decades during the course of which he held many positions. Although he was highly regarded as both a teacher and performer, he never achieved the public recognition of his better known contemporaries such as Mendelssohn, Schumann or Liszt. As fine a pianist as the first two and perhaps even a better teacher, the fact that he failed to publish very many of his compositions until toward the end of his life, in part, explains why he was not better known. Said to be a perfectionist, he continually delayed releasing his works until they were polished to his demanding standards. Schumann, among others, thought quite highly of the few works he did publish during the first part of his life.
Unavailable for well over 100 years, we are pleased to reprint it and are grateful to Dr. Paul Feuchte and Dr. Andreas Feuchte, the composer's great grandson and great-great grandson, for supplying us with a copy of the parts.