Grand Trio in F Major, Op.96 for Violin, Viola & Cello
Franz Krommer (1759-1831) was born in town of Kamnitz then part of the Habsburg Austrian Empire (today Kamenice in the Czech Republic) It had a mixed population of Germans and Czechs and though baptized František Vincenc Kramář by the time he was 15, Krommer began using the Germanized version of his name for the rest of his life, the name by which he beame known to the world. Krommer was one of the most successful composers in Vienna at the turn of the 18th Century. His reputation was attested to by the fact that his works were frequently republished throughout Germany, England, France, Italy, Scandinavia and even the United States. According to several contemporary sources he was regarded with Haydn as the leading composer of string quartets and as a serious rival of Beethoven. Krommer was a violinist of considerable ability who came to Vienna around 1785. For the following 10 years he held appointments at various aristocratic courts in Hungary. He returned to Vienna in 1795 where he remained until his death, holding various positions including that of Court Composer (Hofmusiker) to the Emperor, Franz I, an enthusiastic quartet player. He was the last composer to hold this august title and one of his duties was accompanying the Emperor on his various campaigns so that he could relax in the evenings playing quartets. There are more than 300 compositions which were at one time or another published, much of which is chamber music. He wrote more than 70 string quartets, 35 quintets, perhaps as many as 15 string trios, but also several works for winds and strings.
The Grand Trio in F Major, dates from 1818 and truly deserves the title "Grand" as it is written on a large scale and is a lengthy work. It has traveled under several names such as Trio No.12 and Divertimento for String Trio. The fact that it is in six contrasting movements clearly brought Mozart’s six movement work for string trio, K.563, to mind, which no doubt accounts for it having at one time been called Divertimento. However, structure aside, the music is closer in spirit to Beethoven where through the use of intense chromaticism Krommer is able to achieve a remarkable degree of suspense from just three instruments. The big, opening movement, Allegro moderato, is characterized by its flowing main theme which is juxtaposed against hurried scale passages. The effect is quite striking. The first Menuetto, an allegretto, is not really a minuet but a closer to a scherzo, full of excitement and forward motion. The charming trio section provides a fine contrast. A lovely Adagio follows. Next follows the second Menuetto, also an allegretto. Dark and thrusting, it, too, exhibits qualities which are more like a scherzo. The penultimate movement, an Andante, anticipates Mendelssohn in that it is an intermezzo, charming and full of grace. But, in the middle, we have a several dramatic interludes which break the calm. The Allegro, which serves as the finale, has a lilting and appealing folk melody for its main theme. But Krommer quickly builds the requisite excitement into the music to make a satisfying ending.
This trio, written truly on a grand scale, deserves to take its place in the first rank of such works from the early Romantic era. The trio was published several times within a few years of its appearance but has not been republished for almost 200 years. We have reprinted a copy of the first edition and have added rehearsal numbers. Sheet music of this age almost always has extensive water marks and other blemishes such as specks from paper deterioration. We have spent a great deal of time digitally cleaning the music, however, it is not pristine nor like a brand new edition. Here and there, small specks appear. However, as a reprint, it is much better than any set of old parts. The price, less than our generally very low prices, reflects this fact.