Piano Trio No.4 in B flat Major, Op.133
Louis Spohr (1784-1859 also know 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. He also became 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. His teaching assistant related that as the 1830’s he bemoaned his lack of ability on the piano and said that he would gladly trade a year’s 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. Sometime during the late 1830's he undertook a rigorous course of study of the instrument and by the 1840’s had become a good, if not great, pianist. The main result of this was that he was able to compose chamber works with piano, such as his piano trios which were to have lasting value.
Piano Trio No.4 dates from 1846. It is generally lighter in mood than his other piano trios. The opening Allegro has for its main subject a flowing, dance-like theme, untroubled in character. For his second movement, Spohr substitutes a stately Minuetto for what, by that time, would almost certainly have been a scherzo. What is perhaps surprising are the sudden capricious interruptions. The third movement, Poco adagio has the character of a noble hymn. The finale, a playful Presto, is a sparkling affair. Spohr called it a Sprudelsatz—a bubbling movement—because the music just bubbled forth from his pen effortlessly, while he was taking the cure at Carlsbad Spa with its bubbling springs.
This trio is suitable for both professionals and amateurs. Our edition is a reprint of the original, however, we have corrected errors and added rehearsal numbers.