Piano Trio in b minor, Op.16
François Rasse's Piano Trio in b minor was composed in 1898 and dedicated to his fellow countryman and teacher, the famous violinist Eugene Ysa˙e. Rasse (1873-1955) was born in the Belgian town of Helchin. He attended the Brussels Conservatory where he studied violin with Ysa˙e. He pursued a dual career as a conductor, leading such orchestras as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Monnaie in Brussels as well as the orchestra in Toulouse. He eventually became a professor at the Brussels Conservatory and served as Director of the Liege Conservatory. He composed in most genres.
Just after graduating, a grateful Rasse composed this piano trio which he dedicated to his teacher. The work begins with a brief Moderato introduction which leads to the main section, Allegro appassionato. It is characterized by two very different themes. The first is an elegant melody introduced by the strings, the end to which is rather surprising, an abrupt, pounding rhythmic figure which is unsettling. The second subject is calmer and serene. Both themes of the second movement, Andante, are melancholy and heavy-hearted. In the finale, Interlude et final, Rasse seamlessly melds new material with the subjects from the two preceding movements.
Long out of print, this is a fine example of late Franco-Belgian romanticism which, like the music of Saint Saens, eschews impressionism. It is a shame that this work has not been heard in concert and we encourage professionals as well as amateurs to make its acquaintance.