A4 score 0-571-55588-8 (fp), piano score and parts 0-571-55589-6 (fp) on sale
My Piano Trio was commissioned by the Trio Zingara at the suggestion of Hans Keller, and I dedicated the piece to him. Since Hans’ views on the piano trio – that it is a more or less impossible medium because of the inherent imbalance between piano and strings – were well known to me (as I’m sure he knew), there was a certain ironic humour in his suggesting the commission, so I repaid him in kind with a number of humorous (as I hope) asides in the piece. The first movement, for instance, which is a concise sonata-form movement (there had to be at least one of these in a piece dedicated to Hans!), contains an obvious reference to Brahms, a composer whose piano trios Hans used to single out for special reprimand. The scherzo second movement I intended to be a portrait of Hans, though I didn’t tell him and I wonder if he guessed. It is marked ‘drily humorous’, it has many shifts of mood, and its main material has a deliberately Jewish character. The harmony at times deliberately evokes early Schoenberg. The slow movement begins with a transcription of a song to words by Kathleen Raine from my song cycle The Golden Kingdom. The lyrical mood, restrained but intense, is sustained throughout. The last movement – whose simplicity may well have disconcerted Hans, but that was part of my plan – straightforwardly presents three repetitions of a diatonic melody, played by each instrument in turn. The process of gradual relaxation from the concentrated energy of the first movement is here completed. The commission was funded by the Arts Council of Great Britain and the first performance was given by the Trio Zingara at the Purcell Room, London, on 11 June 1984.
© David Matthews