Trio for 2 Violins & Piano in a minor, Op.76
Arnold Mendelssohn (1855-1933) was a distant relation to Felix Mendelssohn. His early schooling took place in Berlin and Danzig. His formal music training was at the Royal Church Institute of Berlin where he studied organ, piano and composition with Friedrich Kiel. He subsequently worked as an organist at churches in Bonn and Bielefeld, eventually teaching at the Cologne Conservatory where Paul Hindemith was among his many students. He composed nearly 300 works in virtually every genre from opera to chamber music, although he was perhaps best known for his church music. He was widely respected as a composer of the Neo-Romantic Style and his music was frequently performed until it was outlawed by the Nazi Regime, after which it lay forgotten for many years and is only now being rediscovered.
The Trio for 2 Violins and Piano, composed in 1917, is an excellent example of the Neo Romantic Style. The opening Allegro virtually thrusts forth with an explosion of sound before the dramatic, but more lyrical theme is fully fleshed out. The second movement, Adagio, begins with a long series of somber chord progressions in the piano which do not prepare the listener for the bright question and answer duet which the violins introduce before settling into a lovely romantic duet, which is developed with an unusual neo-romantic harmonic accompaniment in the piano. The third movement, Un poco vivace, is a clever, rhythmically interesting scherzo. The superb finale, Sostenuto, piu allegro, is clearly the high-point of the trio. It begins with neo-baroque, slow introduction. The allegro begins in a declamatory fashion and leads to an exciting theme with considerable forward motion. The lyrical second melody is introduced in masterly fashion and keeps things moving right along.
Out of print and unavailable since the early 1930's, this work is a tremendous addition to the scanty literature for 2 violins and piano. A first rate trio, finely constructed and deserving the attention of amateurs and professionals alike.