Franz Schubert

Franz Schubert composed his Piano Trio in Bb Major in 1828, his final year. The trio synthesizes many of the composer's major traits and reveals the contradictory sides of his musical personality. The gentle lyricism for which Schubert is justly renowned is evident in so many long-spun, vocally inspired melodies, but so is an almost explosive vehemence and orchestral grandeur in many passages. The work is full of surprising twists– unexpected pauses, harmonic detours, and much toying with the traditional structural sign posts of tonal music. The work unfolds in four large-scale movements, the first of which is a traditional sonata form. The second movement is an ABA song form, in which the outer sections suggest a tender berceuse, while the central section explores more exotic, gypsy-like themes. The third movement is a scherzo and trio, full of feather-light figuration, witty points of imitation, and quirky rhythmic puns. The finale is a gigantic sonata/rondo form, in which a wide range of humorous themes are developed through unexpected meter changes, dramatic juxtapositions, and clever combinations. A brilliant coda, marked Presto, brings the trio to its exciting conclusion.

updated: 8/11/2011