Piano Trio No.2 in g minor, Op.111
Today, Heinrich Marschner (1795-1861), rival of Weber and friend of Beethoven and Mendelssohn, is remembered mainly for his many romantic operas. He was widely regarded as one of the most important composers in Europe from about 1830 until the end of the 19th century and is still generally acknowledged as the leading composer of German opera between Weber's death and Wagner.
Though he considered himself primarily a composer of opera, he did write 7 piano trios and 2 piano quartets. These did not escape the notice of Schumann who praised the piano trios lavishly and for good reason. Marschner did not just toss off these works as an afterthought but clearly devoted considerable time and effort writing them. To each of his works for piano, violin and cello he gave the title "Grand Trio", indicative of the importance he attached to them. In these fine works, one finds all of the emotions prevalent in the romantic movement during the mid-19th century expressed in a fresh, original and captivating manner.
Marschner wrote his First Piano Trio while still relatively young in 1823. He did not return to the genre for nearly twenty years during which time he was almost exclusively occupied with composing for the opera. However, between 1840 and 1855 he was to compose six more piano trios. The Second Piano Trio, dating from 1840, is his first as a mature composer with a finished style. The big opening Allegro con spirito begins in a haunting fashion and quickly picks up energy which it maintains throughout. The lovely second theme is brighter and more optimistic. Marschner gives the finely crafted second movement, Andantino, the subtitle “Romance”. The opening theme’s beauty is a function of its simplicity. Marschner had few if any peers that could match his ability to create such wonderful romances. The sad, but not gloomy, middle section provides an exquisite contrast. The main theme of the Scherzo, presto which follows is a whirlwind affair. It leads to a somewhat slower, but rhythmically jaunty second subject which conjures images of an equine joyride. The opening theme of the finale, Allegro vivace, is closely related to the jaunty second subject of the scherzo, though here the minor dominates.
We are very pleased to be able to offer this highly appealing trio from the early romantic period. Out of print for more than a century, we have reprinted the first and only edition but we have added rehearsal numbers, corrected a few mistakes which had crept in, and, where possible, have tried to make it more readable than the original. Players, however, must keep in mind that this is an early 19th century edition which is not the equal of late 19th or 20th century music type setting.