Composer: Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Performance date: 28/06/2015
Venue: Bantry Library
Composition Year: 1827
Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation: vn, va, vc
Liana Gourdjia -
Marc Coppey - [cello]
Peter Laul - [piano]
Schubert’s early death and traumatic last
years have given commentators the opportunity to relate the darkness of much of
his late music directly to the suffering he was experiencing. However the
relationship between art and life is subtler than this, though there can be no
doubt that the lonely journeys so vividly described in his music must have
reflected his own experiences. Nonetheless it can but excite our curiosity when
a work as outwardly cheerful as this wonderful Trio comes to be composed in the
middle of his most famous tale of inward suffering and loneliness, Winterreise. It is as though the act of
composing music of the intensity of Winterreise
necessitated the composition of its polar opposite, a work brimful of
youthful vigour and freshness.
The opening movement takes off in a
joyfully light-hearted mood full of Viennese charm. This opening theme is
expanded and explored at some length before the cello sings out the
irresistible second theme over a flowing piano accompaniment. A disturbing and
dramatic pause leads to a hesitant resumption in strange and reflective
accents, a typical Schubertian stroke, which then imperceptibly leads the music
back to the exposition repeat and, second time around, into the development.
This takes us on one of Schubert’s many unpredictable journeys through unexpected
harmonic regions so, by the time this huge movement ends, we have travelled a
long way from the outward certainties of its opening.
The yearningly expressive Andante gives us
a classic example of Schubert’s ability to create seemingly endless melodies
within a continuously evolving structure. Behind the music’s form lies the idea
of a ternary design, with the contrasting middle section unfolding in a gently
agitated C minor. Once again the reprise of the principal theme does not
coincide with a return to the home key, Schubert again saying we have to move
on for nothing can stay the same.
The Scherzo is a delightful interlude,
rhythmically temperamental in the main section, giving way to pure melody in
the simple seeming but harmonically enigmatic Trio. The work is crowned by one
of Schubert’s most exhilarating finales, beginning once again with youthful
nonchalance and rapidly progressing into distant tonalities and capricious, asymmetrical
rhythms. A mood of cheerful playfulness suffuses the movement with a glow of
good humour that makes this one of his most popular creations.
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