Piano Trio No.1 in C Major, Op.22
Robert Fuchs (1847-1927) was born near the Styrian capital of Graz and attended the University of Vienna Conservatory studying with Otto Dessoff and Joseph Hellmesberger. By 1875, he himself was teaching at the Conservatory, eventually rising to the rank of Professor of Composition. He was one of the most famous and revered teachers of his time. Mahler, Sibelius, Hugo Wolf, Franz Schmidt, Alexander Zemlinsky, Franz Schrecker and Richard Heuberger were among his many students. That his compositions did not become better known was largely due to the fact that he did little to promote them, living a quiet life in Vienna and refusing to arrange concerts, even when the opportunity arose, in other cities. He certainly had his admirers, including many famous conductors such as Arthur Nikisch, Felix Weingartner and Hans Richter, who championed his works when they had the opportunity.
Fuchs’ First Piano Trio dates from 1879 and was dedicated to Brahms. It is said that Brahms was so impressed by it that he decided to try his hand at writing another piano trio after a hiatus of nearly 30 years. Fuchs’ trio is the epitome of mid-late Romanticism: full of noble themes, heroic and written on a large scale. The opening Allegro moderato, exhibits all of these traits. Its gorgeous main theme flows forth as calmly as a majestic river. A slow movement, Adagio con molto espressione, has a vaguely funereal quality, while the lovely and finely integrated part-writing reminds one of Schubert. Fuchs follows this up with a lively scherzo, Allegro presto. Despite its tempo there is a hint of captivating darkness flowing beneath the surface. The finale, Allegro risoluto, is full of angular energy and ultimately emerges into a heroic mode. No wonder Brahms was impressed.
This is a masterwork from the romantic era, certainly the equal of its peers. It ought to be heard in concert and will find a warm welcome on the music stands of amateurs as well. Out of print for nearly a century, we are pleased to make it available once again