One cannot get too much of certain good musical things. One of these things is certainly Franz Schubert’s magnificent Piano Trio in E flat major D. 929, which is one reason why this new recording by the Trio Alba is very much welcome. The Notturno D. 897 composed at about the same time as the trio and forming the perfect conclusion to this CD may have been a discarded slow movement from another trio. It was not until the end of his short life that Schubert found his way to the piano trio. His two great contributions to this genre represent the culmination of the whole of his compositional mastery. During the course of the gigantically dimensioned E flat major trio he successfully forms a cyclical design attesting to razor-sharp discernment and phenomenal structuring talent. The work was first performed during one of the last “Schubertiade” private concerts held as a benefit event for Schubert. The composer did not live to read the rave review in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung of Leipzig. The slow movement holds a surprise in store: the melody, initially elegiac but later going over into a dramatic mode, is from a Swedish folk song (!) that Schubert had heard during a performance by the Swedish tenor Isak Albert Berg in Vienna. The broad intervals are characteristic of the song, and its repeated “farväl – farewell” octaves lend the movement a very special touch. Schubert’s contrapuntal mastery may also be admired in the scherzando: canonic concentration in alternating instrumentations astonishes even the seasoned listener. The musicians of the Trio Alba met while studying together in Graz and ever since then have regularly concertized at leading festivals throughout the world. The ensemble has a very special relationship with Schubert’s E flat major trio: “If you see the sun setting” is the first line of the Swedish folk song in the second movement – which inspires even more joyful anticipation of the dawn, “alba” in Italian!
Trio in E flat major D929 op. 100;