Piano Trio No.2 in a minor, Op.45
Xaver Scharwenka's Piano Trio No.2, like many another fine work, was lavishly praised upon its premiere, enjoyed some popularity for a number of years, and then inexplicably disappeared. This is a shame, because this trio has many original ideas as well as an abundance of attractive melodies.
Franz Xaver Scharwenka (1850-1924) was born in the small town of Samter near what is now the Polish city of Poznan (German Posen) in what was then part of Prussia. He learned to play the piano at an early age and his extraordinary talent was clear to all. At 15, he moved with his family to Berlin, where he studied with Theodore Kullak, one of the most renowned piano teachers of his day. He also received instruction in composition. Subsequently, he began touring as a concert pianist and was widely regarded as one of the best then performing. He founded two conservatories, one in Berlin and another in New York and composed in nearly every genre.
Although he was a piano virtuoso his trio no more a vehicle for the piano Mendelssohn's were and the strings are in no way of lesser importance. The Piano Trio No.2, composed in 1878, is a mature composition and can stand comparison with any trio from the same period. The big opening Allegro non troppo begins quite softly with a mysterious introduction which holds the kernel of the lovely, yearning main theme. The second theme is lighter and more fleet-footed while a third melody is quite lyrical. A lengthy, but extraordinarily fine Adagio begins haltingly with a sense of quiet bereavement. This then leads to a highly romantic duet between the violin and the cello which builds to a dramatic climax. The third movement, Allegro molto, is a spooky, nervous scherzo. The mood of the trio is lyrical and happy. The wild finale, Allegro con fuoco, bursts forth with great energy. Its broad, moving theme is exciting and exotic, the second theme, led by the cello, is lyrical but expertly intertwined with the first.
An absolutely first class trio from the romantic era which certainly deserves to be heard in concert. Amateurs will revel in its lush melodies and fine part-writing. Long out of print, our edition is based on the first and only, however, we have added rehearsal letters and corrected mistakes.