Marschner: Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 111; Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 138

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COMPOSERS: Marschner
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 111; Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 138
PERFORMER: Beethoven Trio Ravensburg
CATALOGUE NO: 999 721-2
Known only for a trio of operas – Der Vampyr, Der Templer und die Jüdin and Hans Heiling – that paved the way for the Wagnerian revolution, Heinrich August Marschner actually composed not only a good deal of other stage and choral music, but also a substantial body of songs (over 300), chamber music (including seven piano trios) and solo piano music, as well as two symphonies and a piano concerto (all three incomplete and unpublished).

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The piano trios especially deserve closer attention, as they date from Marschner’s maturity: he turned more to such genres in the 1840s after his career as an opera composer had begun to decline. At their best, these works recall Mendelssohn and Schumann, though the latter criticised No. 2 in G minor for the weakness of its thematic invention, inadequate development and lack of polyphonic interest. The judgement is harsh, if not entirely unwarranted. On the other hand, both here and in the Fifth Trio, in D minor, there is plenty to engage the attention and inspire admiration – not least the ‘lyrical cantability’ referred to in the semi-translated booklet notes. Not masterpieces, certainly, but worth an occasional hearing and these lively performances by the Beethoven Trio Ravensburg are as good a way as any to make their acquaintance. Barry Millington