String Trio in G Major, Bl. 347
For Violin, Viola & Cello
Writing about Rolla's chamber music, Andreas Moser, the well-known chamber music critic and colleague of Joseph Joachim, notes:
If only concert-giving organizations had the courage to include in their programs one of Rolla's trios, quartets or the string quintet, the audience would listen astounded at the excellence of the music.
Alessandro Rolla (1757-1841) was born in Pavia, Italy. He studied the violin and viola became a virtuoso on both instruments, but it was his playing of the viola as a soloist in concert that was considered unique at the time. Rolla also became a renowned teacher and held the position of Professor of Violin and Viola at the Milan Conservatory. In 1797, the 13 year old Paganini was brought to him to evaluate. It is widely believed that Rolla gave the young virtuoso further lessons. But whether he did or not, it is beyond question that Rolla's compositional style had a huge influence on Paganini. People hearing Rolla's music often remark, "but it sounds just like Paganini." It would be more accurate to state that Paganini's music sounds just like Rolla's.
He was a prolific composer writing more than 500 works in nearly every genre from Opera to orchestral works to chamber music. Rolla's instrumental style typifies what became known as the Italian vocal style, taking its name from the fact that it emulated writing for the opera. It had a tremendous impact on musicians both inside and outside of Italy.
The String Trio in G Major is one of a set of six composed in 1800 and published by Artaria in Vienna in 1801 as his Op. No.6--i.e. his sixth work, something it certainly was not. According to the author of his thematic catalogue, it is his 347th work! The trio is in concertante style, meaning that it is written for each instrument to perform as a soloist while the others accompany. The opening Allegro vivo begins with a sprightly upward figure which is then developed in the typical Italian declamatory style. The music is bright and carefree. Rolla then begins his concertante treatment, giving the first solo, then the viola and then the cello. The second movement, Tema con variazione, is a set of four variations which are based on a rather simple but pretty tune. In the second variation the violin and cello engage in a marvelous give and take a breakneck speed. Another variation charms with its pizzicato accompaniment to the violins racing lines high above. Then suddenly a storm bursts forth. The finale, Rondo, presto, is lively and full of clever interplay between the parts.
This Trio is an excellent example of the Italian concertante style and would make an excellent work in concert as well as providing pleasure for amateurs.