Soirs d'Alsace for Piano Trio, Op.52
Widor dedicated his Soirs d'Alsace, four pieces for Piano Trio, to two young French musicians, the violinist Joseph Bilewski, born in 1884, and the cellist Paul Bazelaire, born in 1886. The work was composed in 1881 before either was born but was not published until 1908 by which time the musicians had made a name for themselves and had befriended the composer. Each of the movements has a title and as such can be considered a kind of program music. The first piece En Route! expresses the anticipation of arrival--the music is upbeat with a modicum of excitement. The second piece Ciel d'Orage or Stormy Skies is not as turbulent as one might expect from the title, though not without some passion. Then after the storm, Calme renait, calm is restorned. The work concludes with a lively, romantic and genial Promenade Sentimental, perhaps a jaunt along familiar surroundings.
Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937) today is primarily remembered for his organ compositions and as one of the greatest organists of all time. Widor was born in Lyons and studied first studied with his father, also an organist, and then at the Brussels Conservatory. In 1870, upon the recommendation of Charles Gounod and Camille Saint-Saens, he was appointed to the most important position an organist could hold in France, the position of organist at Saint Sulpice Church in Paris. In 1890, he succeeded Cesar Franck as Professor of Organ at the Paris Conservatory and many important composers, including, Darius Milhaud, Louis Vierne, Marcel Dupre, and Edgar Varese, studied with him. He composed throughout his life in virtually every genre and left a considerable amount of chamber music. The fact that his chamber music along with his other non-organ compositions have been ignored is because of his tower contribution to the organ literature. But Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music states that his chamber music is of the first rank and as good as that of Saint-Saens.
Soir's d'Alsace is a lovely work which can take the place of shorter trio on a concert program. It is certainly with the reach of most amateur players as well. Long out of print, we are pleased to bring it back.