The storm of recent years is finally beginning to abate, and we must admit that it has washed several pearls ashore. Mendelssohn, as one of the many sons of this age, must have had to struggle with and often listen to the insipid declaration of some ignorant critics that ‘the true golden age of music is behind us’ – although it probably affected him less – and has so distinguished himself that we may well say: He is the Mozart of the 19th century, the most brilliant of musicians, the one who most clearly perceives the contradictions of the age, and the first to reconcile them.Despite Schumann's praise, the very qualities that caused Schumann to praise the music were later looked upon as faults. Mendelssohn's mastery of sonata form was looked upon as old-fashioned and conservative, the nimbleness of his scherzos were deemed emotionally lacking, the lyrical turn of his tunes were regarded as too unemotional. Richard Wagner was one of the main players in the smear campaign when he wrote his pamphlet Jewishness In Music in which his disgusting antisemitism sneers and takes cheap shots at Jewish composers, namely Meyerbeer and Mendelssohn (a pamphlet by the way, that Wagner used a pseudonym for). And as if all this was not enough, the filth of the Nazi regime in Germany labeled Mendelssohn's music as degenerate Jewish music.
|Watercolor by Mendelssohn|
But Mendelssohn's music has gone through a rehabilitation of sorts. He is now acknowledged as an inspired composer, conductor, pianist, and one of the greatest musical prodigies of any era.
The Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor is written for the standard grouping of cello, violin and piano. The Piano Trio is one of his most popular chamber music pieces, along with his Octet for Strings. The Trio is in 4 movements:
II. Andante con moto tranquillo - The music of the second movement begins with a solo for piano of the main theme. All the instruments join for a repeat and expansion of the theme. A slightly agitated middle section is in contrast to the preceding. The main theme returns and the music slows to a quiet close.
III. Scherzo: Leggiero e vivace - A light, agile scherzo, music that Mendelssohn was known for.
IV. Finale: Allegro assai appassionato - A return to D minor, the main theme is in the same general mood as the first movement. The piano especially has a lot to do in this movement. Contrasting material interrupts the main theme's progress a few times, but the main theme is persistent and keeps returning until it is transformed to the key of D major as the movement speeds towards the end.