Piano Trio No.5 in c minor, Op.108
Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894) was one of the great piano virtuosi of the 19th century with a technique said to rival that of Liszt. He also gained renown as a composer and conductor. 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 Rubinstein's works will not only hear the influence of Mendelssohn, but also hear Russian melody and rhythm of the sort used by Borodin and others 20 years later.
Piano Trio No.5 in c minor, Rubinsteinís last, dates from 1883. It begins with a chromatic Lento assai introduction which leads to a passionate Moderato. This movement features an excellent main theme as well as a very winning, more lyrical second subject. The second movement, Con moto moderato, falls somewhere between a scherzo and an intermezzo. Here the effective main theme is followed by lilting and expressive second melody. Next comes a slow movement, Moderato assai, with its lovely, heartfelt writing for the strings. The finale, Allegro, follows without a break begins in martial fashion with a staccato fanfare more lyrical music follows which is later interrupted by a fugue, a la Bach before movement is brought to a close in triumphant fashion.
Our edition is the only one with rehearsal letters. This is another fine piano trio which deserves performance in the concert hall but which will also appeal to amateurs.