Piano Trio No. 2

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page one of Piano Trio No. 2

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This piece was mostly written in April 2009, less than a year after Piano Trio No. 1. The earlier trio consisted of two movements, a meditative slow introduction followed by an affirmatively energetic second movement. Piano Trio No. 2, on the other hand, is a tauter and more intense work in a single movement, though divided into three clearly defined sections �" a slow introduction, an allegro and a concluding adagio. As in Trio No. 1, salient musical features introduced at the outset dominate the work as a whole to provide unity. In this work, the material used to produce the themes and harmonies consists of a dissonant harmony that makes a dramatic appearance at the very opening. The chord, spread over several octaves, consists of the notes (reading upwards) B, C#, D, F, A and F#. Of particular importance is the rising shape given out by the first three notes (B, C#, D) and the sonority of interlocking and clashing major/minor thirds (D �" F, F# - A). All the activity of the work springs out of either or both of these two elements.

The opening Grave, molto sostenuto acts as a tense introduction. After a stark beginning, the cello introduces a nervous melody, then joined by the violin in turn. After a short, calm interlude by the piano, a climax is built up, which then fades out to reveal an echo of the opening gesture.

The violin begins the Allegro risoluto alone with an intense and strenuous fugal subject (an extension of the cello melody) and is subsequently joined by the other instruments in turn. The music becomes increasingly granitic, with major and minor thirds continually clashing, culminating in an intense climax which leads into the final section.

The beginning of the Adagio is the climax of the work, a serious and intense duet for the violin and cello, eventually joined by the piano. This leads to a mood of strong resignation and sorrow as the music heads towards its dark close.

Minor revisions were made to the central Allegro in June 2009.

Score ID
Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
8 minutes
Piano trio
Modern classical music
Instrumental parts

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