Piano Trio in a minor, Op.36
Otto Malling (1848-1915) was born in Copenhagen. Studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music with Niels Gade and Johan (J.P.E.) Hartmann. He worked as a teacher and composer and eventually became a professor and then director at the Royal Danish Academy. Among his many students was the composer Knudage Riisager.
Most of his compositions were for voice and or organ—he also served as chief organist of the Copenhagen Cathedral many years. However, he also composed orchestral and instrumental music, including his Op.36 Piano Trio which dates from 1889. Showing the influence of Schumann, it was widely regarded as one of the very best Danish piano trios from the Romantic era. After the First World War as musical tastes changed and the Romantic movement was disparaged, he and his music were promptly forgotten. However, today, he is being rediscovered to the delight of listeners and players.
The Piano Trio is in four movements. The opening Allegro moderato has a nordic folk melody for its main theme. The music by turns dramatic and lyrical. The second movement is a dainty Intermezzo full of lovely melodic writing shared equally by all of the voices. Full of charm, its dance-like rhythms are quite appealing. The third movement, Notturno, begins with a cantilena melody first in the cello. The violin’s reply is somewhat darker and sadder. The finale, Presto, is bright and lively, playful and elegant.
Here is another first rate piano trio from the Romantic era which deserves the attention of both amateurs and professionals and would be a welcome addition in the concert hall.