Jan Ladislav Dussek: Piano Trio in F Major

Context

Composed c.1790, Jan Ladislav Dussek’s Piano Trio in F Major (Op.20, No.3), is a truly thrilling work in the genre. Dussek’s in-depth knowledge of the piano certainly aided him in creating such a large catalogue of music including the piano. He composed a set of piano trios, all of which embody Dussek’s typical classical style. Op.20 is perhaps one of the more performed trios of the set, with its exciting themes and technical challenges for the performers. 

 

The Music

Set into three contrasting movements, Piano Trio in F Major starts with a vivacious opening movement:

 

Movement I – Allegro vivace

Opening with a unison passage, the main theme begins to steer the parts in different directions. The virtuosic piano part is the dominant force at the beginning, as the cello and violin accentuate the scalic runs with pulsating figures in unison. The bouncy secondary theme is initially led by the cello, but is soon passed around the ensemble. The bright F major tonality adds to the excitement and life of the music in the opening movement. The bold piano part leads the way into the recapitulation section where the themes begin to tie together. As the music builds to the climax, the dynamics become much louder. After a quick call and response section the opening movement concludes with a thrilling flourish from the piano before unison chords finish the movement. 

 

Movement II – Cantabile con espressione 

Opening with a piano theme, the violin takes hold of the melody. The two exchange musical dialogue as Dussek experiments more with the fluctuation of time. The cello enters as an accompanying figure whilst the piano and violin explore the melody. The shortest movement of the three, the lyrical middle movement closes with quiet chords from the piano.

 

Movement III – Rondo

The quick finale is full of energy and life. Once again led by the virtuosic piano part, the strings accentuate with bold chords. Quick unison moments bring the ensemble together before the melodies are quickly drawn away and developed elsewhere. The very measured piano part keeps the tempo driving forward, even within the violin and cello exchange section. As the ensemble unites, the trio concludes with a delicate nod back in the home key of F major. 

 

Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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