Piano Trio No.3


piano trio
Mixed Chamber Ensemble
Commissioned by the Leasowes Bank Festival
First Performance
20.7.05, Leasowes Bank Festival, Shropshire, UK: Chamber Music Company

Score and parts on special sale from the Hire Library

Programme Notes

1. Con vivacità

2. Andante moderato

My Third Piano Trio was composed between January and March this year. As in my previous trios, I was particularly concerned with the balance between piano and strings, and so have deliberately kept the piano part quite spare. In the first movement I have attempted something I tried out in the first movement of my Fourth Symphony fifteen years ago: to build a movement out of a single melodic line, which is passed between the instruments. I have carried out this scheme more strictly than I was eventually able to do in the Fourth Symphony: apart from some pedal parts, there is no harmony until the tiny C major coda at the end. There are three ideas, presented on piano, cello and violin respectively, each markedly different in character. The three ideas are augmented, developed, and shared between the players; in the recapitulation (this is a sonata movement), all three are played consecutively by the three instruments in octave unison. The second movement, which makes full use of chromatic harmony and counterpoint, is twice as long as the first. It is based on the same material, but inverted - that is to say upside-down: I don't expect listeners necessarily to notice this, but it was a helpful compositional device. Again, the three ideas appear consecutively, and after a condensed repeat (the second theme appearing in counterpoint with the first), the main Andante tempo is interrupted by a brief Presto scherzo, before a return to the Andante in which all three ideas, now in their original form, are combined in counterpoint. The movement, which had begun in A minor, ends in a gentle A major (the key also of the scherzo passage). The Trio is dedicated to my friend Alistair Hinton, the C major ending of whose magisterial String Quintet I chanced to hear for the first time very shortly after I'd sketched my own C major coda to my first movement, somehow confirming its rightness (both of us are well aware of Schoenberg's famous pronouncement about that key), and whose lowest-A-on-the-piano ending to his Étude en forme de Chopin I gratefully appropriated for my own final chord. Piano Sonata No. 3 was commissioned by the Leasowes Bank Festival.

© David Matthews

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