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Louis Spohr

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Piano Trio No.2 in F Major, Op.123

Louis Spohr's Piano Trio No.2 dates from 1842 and of his five trios is written on the largest scale. The first movement Allegro moderato begins with a powerful opening phrase which leads directly to the chromatic first theme. The second theme demonstrates an example of imaginative scoring. The Larghetto which comes next is one more remarkable in the literature. The cello with only the piano for a soft accompaniment, in its lower registers, sings a sad and forlorn theme. The violin's entrance briefly creates a moment of tension before moving on to the lyrical second theme. Then comes a Scherzo with a haunting leisurely dance-line melody. By contrast, the trio section is bright and sunny. The finale, Vivace, begins in the minor with a promising theme which quickly dissolves into rushing triplet passages which create considerable excitement.

 

Louis Spohr (1784-1859 also known as Ludwig) was born in the German city of  Braunschweig. From early childhood, he showed a great aptitude for the violin. He studied with the virtuoso violinist Franz Anton Eck in St. Petersburg and ultimately became one of the leading violinists in the first half of the 19th century. But from the very beginning, Spohr wanted to become more than just a violin virtuoso. Hard work and talent were to allow him to become a leading conductor, a highly regarded composer and a famous violin teacher. As a conductor, he pioneered the use of the baton and introduced the practice of putting letters into parts to aid rehearsal. Violinists should be forever be grateful to him not only for his fine concertos but also because he invented the chin rest. Spohr wrote in virtually every genre, not the least being chamber music. He composed some 36 string quartets, 7 string quintets, five piano trios, four double quartets and several other chamber pieces. During the 1830ís, he bemoaned his lack of ability on the piano and said that he would gladly trade a yearís salary to be able to play the piano well. Spohr was truly a great man of many skills (mountaineer, hiker, painter et. al.), and nothing if not determined. He undertook a rigorous course of study and by the 1840ís had become a good, if not great, pianist.

 

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