Piano Trio No.4 in d minor, Op.89
for Piano, Violin & Viola
Wilhelm Altmann, writing in Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music notes that Lachner wrote a great quantity of solid chamber music, much of it excellent. Of his six trios for piano, violin and viola, Altmann called them "indispensable." And indeed they are among the best compositions ever written for this little used alternative to the standard piano trio. It is not known why Lachner chose to write all of his piano trios for this combination. It is thought that they were either commissioned over time by viola connoisseurs or that he simply like the light sound created by the ensemble. In any case, it is fortuitous, for he greatly enriched the literature for this combination.
Ignaz Lachner (1807-1895) was the second of the three famous Lachner brothers. (there were some 16 children in all) His older brother Franz was the best known, having heavily traded on his youthful friendship with Franz Schubert, certainly more than Ignaz who also knew Schubert. Ignaz was taught (as were the others) organ, piano and violin. Upon the latter instrument, he was somewhat of a prodigy, but despite this, his father insisted he become a teacher. After his fatherís death, he studied violin with Bernhard Molique, a violin virtuoso and then joined his brother Franz in Vienna where he too befriended and was influenced by Schubert, not to mention Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Though primarily known as a conductor, Lachner composed a considerable amount of music, much of it chamber music. His place in music is as a "Classicist-Romantic".
The opening Allegro giusto begins with a long piano introduction in which the somber main theme is given out. Soon the strings join in and with them the dramatic pitch is raised to a high level of excitement. The lovely main theme to the Andante, quasi allegretto, has a child-like innocence to it but the contrasting second theme brings a bit of emotion to the front. Next comes a very interesting scherzo, Allegro molto. The lilting first theme moves forward effortlessly. A mocking second theme, rather than a development, makes a very brief appearance. The middle section is calm and lyrical. The exciting finale, Allegro molto, has a Mozartian quality about it. The first theme brings to mind a racing horse ride. It concludes with a stomping peasante section which elicits the lyrical theme.
No question about it, this is a great work for this ensemble. Either out of print or hard to find, we are pleased to present it once again.