Piano Trio No.1 in b minor, Op.20
Richard Franck (1858-1938) was the son of the composer, concert pianist and teacher Eduard Franck (whose music we also publish). Born in Cologne, where his father was then teaching, Richard showed an early talent for the piano. When it became clear he was going to pursue a career in music, Eduard, who had studied with Mendelssohn, saw to it that he received the best training available. Richard was sent to the prestigious Leipzig Conservatory to study with Carl Reinecke and Salomon Jadassohn, both of whom were among the leading composers and teachers of their day. After finishing his studies, Richard enjoyed a long career as a teacher, composer, and pianist, during the course of which he held several positions in Germany and Switzerland.
Although he was a fine performer, and a respected teacher and composer, Richard Franck never achieved the prominence which his father had. [Eduard, though today unknown, was during his lifetime---1817-1893--- considered a leading concert performer and teacher.] It was simply a fact of life, which befalls a many fine musician, and not a reflection on Richard as either a teacher, performer or composer. Those critics, who were familiar with his compositions and his piano playing, regularly lavished praised upon them. For example, the prestigious Allgemeine Schweizer Zeitung (Swiss Musical Journal), writing about Richard Franck's Piano Trio No.1, Op.20, enthused:
"Powerful and full-sounding energy is shown in many works, not least in [Richard Franck's] Op.20 Piano Trio, which is a magnificent, significant composition, fresh in invention, firm and secure in its development, and mature in its expression."
Franck's Piano Trio No.1 was composed during his time in Switzerland and was published in 1893. The opening Allegro, has for its main theme a restless, searching melody followed by a turbulent development section. The gorgeous second theme effectively relieves the tension but it, too, brings a sense of striving. Next is a quiet and reflective Andante sostenuto. This is followed by an updated, graceful and light-hearted Menuetto which gives no hint at all of the stormy music hidden in the middle section of this very fine movement. The finale, Prestissimo, is a whirling tarantella.
With its lovely melodies and exciting musical episodes, audiences and players alike will find this trio a very appealing work. Long out of print, our edition is the first in over a century.