Piano Trio No.5 in g minor, Op.142
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. It was at a concert in Leipzig in December 1804 that the famous music critic Friedrich Rochlitz first heard Spohr and pronounced him a genius not only because of his playing but also because of his compositions. Literally overnight, the young Spohr became a household word in the German-speaking musical world.
Besides frequently touring as a concert violinist, Spohr held many important positions as a conductor and director at various musical courts throughout Germany. 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. His teaching assistant related that as 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. Sometime during the late 1830's he undertook a rigorous course of study of the instrument and by the 1840ís 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.
His fifth and final piano trio, Op.142 was composed in 1848. This was the year of the German Revolution in which the German people, led by the liberals, briefly rose up in hopes of creating a republic. Spohr was very sympathetic and very troubled when the Revolution failed. Trio No.5 dates from when this was happening and the opening movement, Allegro vivace, is filled with urgent, march-like themes. In contrast, the themes of second movement, Adagio, are calmer and filled with nobility. A restless Scherzo follows. The finale, Presto, opens with dramatic ascending passages and its flowing undercurrent creates an even greater sense of restless than the opening movement, although the lyrical second theme serves to relieve the tension created by the opening section.
This trio is not only suitable for concert performance but will also to appeal to amateurs. Our edition is a reprint of the original, however, we have corrected errors and added rehearsal letters.