Piano Trio No.2 in E flat Major, Op.12
Reber's Piano Trio No.2 in E flat Major, Op.12 dates from 1840. In four movements, it begins with an Allegro moderato which has a series of quick runs before the main subject takes over. This is a stormy subject of great unrest. A second more lyrical theme is later introduced by the cello. The second movement, Andantino, is simplicity itself with its naïve, charming melody. Next comes a delicate scherzo, Allegro non troppo, light and graceful. The finale, Trés accentuê sans vitesse—literallyvery accented and without speed. And what you have is a very stately fanfare which could have served as an entry processional for royalty, dignified and deliberate. The whole movement keeps to this atmosphere.
Napoléon-Henri Reber (1807-1880), was no doubt given his first name as the year of his birth coincided with the time when Bonaparte was at the height of his power and popularity. But the composer, who was born in the Alsatian town of Mulhouse, for most of his life went by Henri Reber. He studied composition with Anton Reicha at the Paris Conservatory and thereafter pursued a career with considerable success as a composer, eventually becoming a Professor of Composition at the Paris Conservatory and a member of Academie Francaise. Among his many students number Benjamin Godard, Jules Massenet, Pablo de Sarasate, and Wladislav Zelinski. He composed in virtually all genres, including ballet, opera, symphonies and chamber music. His chamber works include a string quartet, a string quintet and seven piano trios. Reber’s music unquestably influenced the young Saint-Saëns and Fauré.
Out of print for well over a century, this piano trio is an example of French musical tastes during the July Monarchy. It would do well in concert and is a work which should appeal to amateurs players.