Two Pieces for String Trio
Alexander Nikolsky (1874-1943) was born in the village of Vladykino in Moscow province. The son of a priest, he sang in church choirs from childhood. When he entered the Moscow Conservatory, he studied composition with Sergei Taneyev and also conducting. After graduating he worked at various schools as a teacher of choral music, music theory, and counterpoint. Most of his works are choral works for the Russian Orthodox church service.
His Two Pieces for String Trio Op.42 were published in 1920 and although given the late opus number of 42, they clearly date from his time at the Moscow Conservatory as evidenced by the fugue which most likely was set by his teacher, the greatest Russian writer of fugues and hence we feel was composed between 1890 and 1895. This is further evidenced by the fact that the music is mostly secular in nature and nothing to do with the Orthodox church service. The simple but lovely theme, upon which the variations are based, is straight forward and each of the variations explores a different mood and is given a different treatment. Similarly, the appealing Minuet and Gigue are also simple and straight forward.
These pieces make a welcome addition to the scanty late 19th century repertoire for string trio and would do well on any concert program, though they present no technical difficulties whatsoever.