String Trio d minor, Op.45
For Violin, Viola & Cello
Nikolai Sokolov (1859–1922) was born in St. Petersburg and studied at the conservatory there under Rimsky-Korsakov. He became one of several composers, mostly students of Korsakov such as Glazunov and Borodin, who came to be known as the Belaiev Circle, named after the important Russian music publisher, M.P. Belaiev. These composers dedicated themselves to creating a “Russian School”, (i.e. Russian-sounding). Sokolov eventually became a professor at the Petersburg Conservatory where Alexander Tcherepnin and Dmitri Shostakovich were among his many students. He wrote music for the ballet and orchestra as well as chamber music, including three string quartets. Today, if he is known at all, it is for his contributions to a collection of short pieces for string quartet by the composers of the Belaiev Circle. The collection came to be known as Les Vendredis, It commemorated the chamber music concerts and banquets which took place most Friday evenings at the mansion of the publisher Belaiev. All of the pieces in the collection were specifically composed for those Friday evening concerts.
The Op.45 String Trio, which was composed in 1910, is in four movements. It begins with an Allegro moderato in which the composer indicates that the tempo will fluctuate. At first the music is rather leisurely but after a while Sokolov quickly changes the tempo. The music has many of the hall-marks of the Belaiev Circle and Rimsky Korsakov with its light touches. The second movement, Adagio, recalls some of the music of Borodin, while the quirky Andantino capriccioso which follows is a very original sounding scherzo. The finale, Adagio-Allegro, begins with a lengthy, slow introduction in which the cello is given a dramatic solo. The main section is a robust Russian sounding theme, which is suddenly followed by a lyrical, somewhat slower melody.
There are very few late Russian romantic string trios, and this is certainly one of the best. It would make a fine selection for a concert program but should not be missed by amateurs.
Parts & Score: $24.95