Piano Trio No.4 in D Major, Op.58
Eduard Franck's fourth and final piano trio was only published some five years after his death in 1898. Although it is known when exactly the work was composed but judging from the melodic material, it would seem that it dates from sometime between the late 1860's and early 1870's.
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.
The opening, Allegro, begins in a rather formal fashion. The scale passages bring to mind Schumann. The appealing second theme has a lilting dance-like quality. The second movement, Presto, begins with a short hunt call redolent of Schubert but Franck's use of chromaticism gives music an unusual and playful twist. The slow movement, Andante con moto, begins quietly, in a rather straight forward way. A chaste and simple theme is given out by the violin to a somber accompaniment in the cello and piano. It is the slinky second section which truly stands out. The cello, brings forth a skulking melody which the piano embellishes with some rather far out tonal sequences. The jovial finale, Allegro molto vivace, has a rustic, festive mood to it. It bustles along energetically taking all before it.
Unavailable for the better part of the last century, 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. Here is another first class piano trio, from the mid-Romantic era, which not only deserves to be performed in recital but also to be enjoyed by amateurs as well.