Piano Trio No.2 in E Major, Op.20
Salomon Jadassohn (1831-1902) was born to a Jewish family living in Breslau, the capital of the Prussian province of Silesia. First educated locally, Jadassohn enrolled at the Leipzig Conservatory in 1848, just a few years after it had been founded by Mendelssohn. There he studied composition with Moritz Hauptmann, Ernst Richter and Julius Rietz as well as piano with Ignaz Moscheles. At the same time, he studied privately with Franz Liszt in Weimar. He spent much of his career teaching piano and composition at the Leipzig Conservatory. Over the years, he became a renown pedagogue, and Grieg, Busoni, Delius, Karg-Elert, Reznicek and Weingartner were among his many students. Jadassohn wrote over 140 works in virtually every genre, including symphonies, concertos, lieder, opera and chamber music, the latter being among his finest compositions. Considered a master of counterpoint and harmony, he was also a gifted melodist, following in the tradition of Mendelssohn. But one also hears the influence of Wagner and Liszt, whose music deeply impressed him.
Jadassohn and his music were not better known primarily for two reasons: The first being Carl Reinecke and the second being the rising tide of anti-semitism in late 19th century Wilhemine Germany. Reinecke was almost Jadassohn's exact contemporary and somewhat of a super-star. Not only was he a world famous piano virtuoso but also an important professor at the Leipzig Conservatory and later its director. If this were not enough, he served as the conductor of the renowned Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Under these circumstances, it was hard for a colleague to get the public's attention.
Piano Trio No.2 in E Major was composed in 1860, two years after he had completed his first piano trio. The opening Allegro appassionato begins in e minor and much of the movement stays in that key giving the music a sense of gravitas. A beautiful second theme follows on the heels of the passionate first subject. The second movement, Andante, Jadassohn calls a Romanza ( a romance) With its lovely melodic writing, it evokes a mood of discreet ardor. A third movement, Scherzo, allegretto moderato, is more in the way of a intermezzo with a very unusual juxtaposition of capriciously leaping string parts against a rather plodding piano part. The finale, Allegro con brio, opens with a fetching, melody which has, because of its dotted rhythm, a somewhat military quality to it, but also one feels the aura of Mendelssohn.
This is another worthwhile work from the mid-romantic era which is not only grateful to play but also filled with lovely melodies and good part-writing.