Piano Trio in e minor, Op.23
Amilcare Zanella (1873-1949) was born in the Italian town of Monticelli d’Origina. He showed a talent for music at an early age and after studying locally entered the Parma Conservatory where he studied piano, horn and composition with Giovanni Bottesini among others. He began his career as an opera conductor in Buenos Aires. From 1903, he succeeded Giovanni Tebaldini as the director of the Parma Conservatory and then served as successor to Mascagni as director of the Rossini Liceo Musicale in Pesaro. In 1921, he founded an important Quartet Society in Northern Italy and in 1927, together with the violinist Giovanni Chiti and the cellist Nerio Brunelli, he created the Trio di Pesaro, an ensemble which would remain active until 1949. His piano playing was of such a caliber that he was frequently mentioned in the same breath as Busoni. .Although he composed in virtually every genre, he was especially fond of chamber music.
His First Piano Trio, Op.23 dates from 1899. It was published, however in 1906. The famous chamber music scholar Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Handbook for Piano Trio Players has this to say about the trio:
“Amilcare Zanella’s Opus 23 Piano Trio can be warmly recommended not only for the concert hall but also to amateur players. It is written on a huge canvas and is packed full of excekkebt which easily hold one’s interest. Each of the parts is grateful to play. The first movement, Allegro agitato, full of lively but also sensitive themes makes a very strong impression. The second movement is a tonally magnificent Andante with an especially captivating middle section. Next comes a lively Scherzo, Allegro vivace, with an Intermezzo which serves as the trio section. The finale, Allegro, is similar in rhythm to the preceding Scherzo. Particularly impressive is the beautiful, lyrical second theme. “
This work has been unavailable now for several decades. As Altmann writes, this is a work sure to interest both professionals and amateurs alike.