Thursday, October 15, 2020

Arensky - Piano Trio No. 1 In D Minor

Both of Anton Arensky's parents were avid amateur musicians; his mother a pianist and his father a cellist. Arensky was musically precocious as a child and graduated in only three years from the St. Petersburg Conservatory with high honors in 1882. He became professor of harmony and counterpoint at the Moscow Conservatory shortly after graduation and returned to St. Petersburg and served in the Imperial Chapel from 1895 to 1901. He died in 1906. Arensky's music is for the most part forgotten, except for the Piano Trio No. 1 In D Minor which remains his best known work.  The trio was written in 1894 and dedicated to the memory of Karl Davidov, celebrated cellist and director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory.

The trio is in 4 movements:

I. Allegro moderato -  The first movement is in sonata form and begins with a theme for violin with piano accompaniment. The cello takes up the theme along with the violin after which the piano has its say with the theme. A change in tempo ushers in an interlude that acts as an introduction to the second theme which is played by the cello, violin and piano in turn. This leads to another short interlude that ushers in a third theme that has the piano playing full chord interruptions to its rippling accompaniment of the two strings. The exposition is repeated. The development begins with parts of the first two themes played after each other after which there is an increase in drama until the recapitulation begins. The themes from the exposition return until a tempo change to adagio begins a short coda that has the first theme quietly and poignantly end the movement.

II.  Scherzo, Allegro molto -  This is the only movement in the trio that is in a major key, D major.  A stuttering figure in the violin is accompanied by soft chords from the piano, after which the violin and cello play pizzicato while the piano plays runs up and down the keyboard. The stuttering figure of a quarter note, eighth rest, two sixteenth notes occurs throughout the scherzo's first and second parts. The trio is a romantic waltz in B-flat major. A short transition brings the scherzo back for a repeat. A short coda alternated the stuttering figure in the violin and cello. The piano makes one last solo run up the keyboard and the movement ends in a wisp.

III. Elegia - Adagio - A tribute to the dedicatee of the trio is played by the muted cello, a somber sad theme that is taken up also by the muted violin. A middle section adds a brief respite to the sorrow,  but the sad theme returns with a piano accompaniment of full chords in a subdued dynamic. The movement ends in a hush of long notes in the strings and pianissimo chords in the piano.

IV. Finale - Allegro non troppo -  The beginning of the finale is dramatic, but amid the drama Arensky revisits themes already heard. The middle section from the third movement appears like a ghostly reminder of things past, and the initial theme from the first movement also makes an appearance to further remind the listener of the past.  A coda built from the opening of the fourth movement ends the trio.

1 comment:

  1. Questo Trio è una eccezionale composizione testimonianza di un fine e virtuoso compositore quale fu Anton Arensky.