Piano Trio No.1 in d minor, Op.34
Remembered today only for his organ compositions which are considered the most important ever written after those of Bach, Rheinberger, during his life time, was a much respected composer, generally ranked after Brahms and Wagner as the most important living German composer. Furthermore, he was also widely regarded as the leading teacher of composition during most of his lifetime.
Joseph Gabriel Rheinberger (1839-1901) was born in Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein. At the age of 5, young Joseph was given piano and organ lessons from a local teacher. His talent was immediately discovered and was of such a substantial nature that with the help of a scholarship he was sent to the Royal Conservatory in Munich where he studied with Franz Lachner, one of Schubert’s close friends and an important composer in his own right. Rheinberger, who remained in Munich for the rest of his life, holding the position of Professor of Composition for nearly 40 years.
The First Piano Trio was composed in 1862, revised a few years later and published in 1867. It is a youthful work full of energy. The opening theme to the first movement, Allegro appassionato is syncopated and muscular. The depth and inspiration of the second theme testify to his creative power. There are two sections to the second movement, Adagio espressivo. The main theme is sweet and tender and perhaps the words “romance or romanza” might be justified. The second theme, Piu mosso e feroce, is particularly noteworthy. The third movement, Scherzo vivace, is a genial, relaxed elegant waltz. The conclusion, Finale all’ongarese: Allegro vivo, captures the listener's attention immediately. It is followed by a capriccioso, one that is full of gypsy fire.
Hard to obtain and often out of print, this trio deserves its day on the the concert stage and should also give pleasure to amateurs.