Piano Trio No.1 in F Major, Op.15 No.1
"Worthy of recommendation is Anton Rubinstein's Piano Trio No.1, published in 1855 but composed a few years earlier. The main theme of the first movement, Con moto moderato, is quite attractive. It brings to mind a sea of wave swells. Equally pleasing is the lyrical second subject which has a real swing to it. The second movement, Moderato, is a theme and variations. These are not only interesting but tonally beautiful. The theme appears to be a Russian folk melody. The finale, Moderato con moto, begins with a very appealing, lilting melody and ends with a very effective coda."---Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Handbook for Piano Trio Players.
Rubinstein was one of those rare concert virtuosi whose contribution to music went far beyond performing. In 1862, he founded the St. Petersburg Conservatory and served as its first director. His efforts in developing Russian musical talent were perhaps the greatest of any single individual. Not only did he introduce European educational methods but he also established standards that were as rigorous as any conservatory in Europe.
While Rubinstein's compositions were extremely popular during his lifetime, after his death, they were criticized because they showed "no Russian influence" and were viewed as derivatives of prominent European contemporaries, especially of Mendelssohn. Despite the fact that commentator after commentator has repeated this assertion, almost as if it were a litany, it is nonetheless not entirely accurate. Although he was not part of the so-called emergent Russian national school as led by Rimsky Korsakov, it is not true that there is no Russian influence to be found in his music. This influence is just not as pronounced as in the works of Borodin, Mussorgsky or of Korsakov himself. However, listeners to this trio will note that the second movement is based on a very Russian sounding folk tune of the sort used by Borodin and others 20 years later.
Rubinstein was a prolific composer writing in nearly every genre. Chamber music figures prominently amongst his works. He wrote 10 string quartets, at least 5 piano trios, a string quintet and a string sextet as well as several instrumental sonatas.
We reprinted the first edition with improvements. We were working from sheet music which is 150 years old. All sheet music this old is faded in places and often has water marks and the detritus of age, not to mention fingerings. We have spent many hours digitally cleaning, darkening, removing fingerings and correcting errors and have been able to create a very serviceable performance edition, however, it is not like a newly published work. The price, less than our generally very low prices, reflects this fact.