Alexander Alyabyev: Piano Trio in A minor
Although not published until over 100 years after his death in 1950, Alexander Alyabyev’s highly Romantic Piano Trio in A minor played an important role in the development of the genre. Cast into three contrasting movements, this intricate chamber work is representative of the classical landscape in Russia during the early 1800s.
Movement I – Allegro ma non troppo
Opening with the piano leading with the main theme, the delicate setting of this movement is a testament to Alyabyev’s clever orchestrations. The theme is passed between the cello and violin throughout, with the piano taking a more independent part. The effective growth and retreating of the dynamics adds to the Romantic style of the trio, with Alyabyev’s rich harmonic language also adding to this style. Big piano interludes change the course of the music, with loud statements introducing new themes. Alyabyev writes the trio parts in unison at some points to add power to the music, however, the solo lines are very intricate and completely oppose some of the unison themes. The movement ends quickly with a scalic passage before four long chords.
Movement II – Adagio
The slow middle movement opens with a pulsating theme that flourishes into a pastoral theme for the violin. The cello plays a counter-melody whilst the piano takes a more accompaniment role throughout this movement. The yearning heard in the elongated melody in the violin part moves the tempo around this movement, creating a nuanced fluctuation effect. Alyabyev’s soft touch in this movement is sensitive and shows a new side to the composer. This movement concludes quietly.
Movement III – Allegretto
The rondo finale opens with the piano stating the theme. The strings take an accompaniment role at the start of the movement, but their parts soon grow into interweaving counter-melodies. The excitement found in this movement is something we have not heard yet in this trio, with the fast tempo adding to the intensity of the atmosphere. Alyabyev uses pizzicato to create a more open sound between the instruments, with the bowed phrases showcasing the rich timbre between the trio. After a short reprise of the fully developed theme, this dynamic trio comes to a fiery finish.
Ⓒ Alex Burns