|Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Opus 50|
Piano Trio in A minor op. 50Piano trio in A minor. 1882. Time: 47'30.
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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Trio in A minor, Op. 50 for piano, violin, and cello was written in Rome between December 1881 and late January 1882. It is subtitled In memory of a great artist, in reference to Nikolai Rubinstein, his close friend and mentor, who had died on 23 March 1881.
The work's first version was completed by late January 1882. Private performances were held in March and April. The work underwent considerable revision before its premiere on October 30 at a quartet concert of the Russian Musical Society in Moscow. The piano soloist was Sergei Taneyev; the other performers are unknown.
The piece is marked by a tragic perspective and is in two movements:
Total timing: approx 47:00.
The variations are as follows:
The pezzo is a darkly brooding and rather conventional romantic first movement with a beautiful opening cello solo with a theme that returns for a final funeral march. The second movement is rather more unusual: it opens with an almost classical melody, much like Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme for cello, and then proceeds with an assured set of variations, also like the Rococo Variations. After working itself into more and more ecstatic heights culminating with the final variation, it suddenly goes through a surprising modulation to the original minor key, and the theme from the first movement returns with an even greater gravity, and the entire piece concludes with yet another death march.
The work, and the second movement in particular, is arguably the most difficult piece Tchaikovsky wrote for piano, whether solo, with orchestra, or in a chamber group. It remains popular, in spite of its length (it plays for more than 40 minutes), for its breathtaking lyricism and the cosmic finality of its final statement.
This was the only work Tchaikovsky ever wrote for this combination of instruments. In 1880, his benefactress Nadezhda von Meck, had asked for such a piece, but he refused, saying in his letter to her of 5 November 1880:
Strong words indeed. And yet, only a little over a year later, he composed this piano trio without being asked to do so, when any number of other genres or instrumental combinations were also available to him.
In a letter to von Meck of 27 December 1881, he again referred to his "antipathy for this combination of instruments". He wrote:
He completed his rough sketches on 20 January 1882, and virtually completed the scoring by 25 January. On that day he wrote to von Meck again:
He put the finishing touches to the Trio by 9 February (the score is annotated "Rome 28 January-9 February 1882"), and sent it to his publishers on 11 February, asking that Sergei Taneyev appear as piano soloist at the first performance. Taneyev, the cellist Wilhelm Fitzenhagen and the violinist Jan Hřímalý were given access to the score, and they made a number of suggestions for improvement, which Tchaikovsky accepted.
There was a private performance at the Moscow Conservatory on 23 March, the first anniversary of Nikolai Rubinstein's death, with the above-named soloists, but Tchaikovsky was still in Italy at the time. He returned to Russia in April and heard the Trio for the first time, at another private performance, after which he made further changes. These included inserting a break before the Andante coda and substantially rewriting the piano part of the Finale. Taneyev also rewrote Variation VIII himself, a change that Tchaikovsky approved.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Piano_Trio_(Tchaikovsky)". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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