Piano Trio No.1 in g minor, Op.32
"Benjamin Godard's two piano trios are delightful and are to be unhesitatingly recommended." This was the opinion of Walter Wilson Cobbett, editor of the highly respected guide to chamber music, Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music.
Benjamin Godard (1849-95) was born in Paris. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire composition with Reber and violin with Henri Vieuxtemps. He was somewhat of a prodigy on that instrument, as well as on the viola, and accompanied Vieuxtemps to Germany on concert tours on two occasions. Godard enjoyed chamber music and played in several performing ensembles. This experience stood him good stead when it came to writing effective chamber music compositions. In 1878, Godard was the co-winner with Théodore Dubois, head of the Paris Conservatory, of a musical competition instituted by the city of Paris.
He composed music with great facility and from 1878 to the time until his death Godard composed a surprisingly large number of works, including the opera Jocelyn, from which the famous "Berceuse" has become perhaps his best known work. He also composed several symphonic works, ballets, concertos, overtures and chamber music, including three string quartets and two piano trios.
Piano Trio No.1 dates from 1880 and for many years enjoyed considerable popularity. The restless, opening Allegro begins with a turbulent theme in which the piano is given a fast running passage softly played beneath the longer-lined melody in the strings. A second theme is quieter and of a reflective nature. The following Tempo di Minuetto is not a minuet but a bouncy, highly accented scherzo. The middle section has a Russian orthodox church-like melody which is cleverly interrupted by the sprightly first theme after almost every utterance, creating an original effect. The third movement Andante is a simple but beautiful lovers' duet. First the violin the calls out, then the cello answers. Eventually, they join in and sing together. The finale, Allegro, follows without pause. It begins in the same turbulent theme that began the trio, although in a slightly altered form. Godard actually brings backeach of the earlier themes from the preceding movements, but ingeniously clothes in a quite different guise.
We have reprinted the first and only edition which was without rehearsal letters and which has at least a few errors of which we were aware. We have corrected those and have added rehearsal numbers. This is a fun work to play and exciting for audiences to hear.