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String Trio in D major
1879/80; published in 1956

'Taneyev: String Trios' (CDA67573)
Taneyev: String Trios
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67573 
Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Scherzo 'in contrapunto alla riversa': Molto vivace – Trio – Scherzo da capo
Movement 3: Adagio ma non troppo
Movement 4: Allegro molto – Più mosso

String Trio in D major
The String Trio in D major was written in 1879–80. The manuscript carries on its last page a handwritten testimonial from Tchaikovsky, dated 10 April 1880, recording that the older composer had read through the Trio and been astonished by Taneyev’s skill. But it apparently had only one performance in Taneyev’s lifetime, and remained unpublished until 1956.

The D major Trio is a strongly classicizing, even ‘neo-classical’ conception, evoking shades of Handel, Bach and especially Mozart (Taneyev must have known Mozart’s great Divertimento in E flat for string trio, K563). The first movement is a melodious sonata-form design, with an intimate and mellifluous second subject in which the Mozartian parallels are particularly close. The exposition is repeated, in classical style. The development, however, is occupied by a muscular fugue, with prominent dotted rhythms, where J S Bach is more clearly the model.

The second movement is one of Taneyev’s typically elaborate polyphonic inventions, a ‘Scherzo in contrapunto alla riversa’ (Scherzo in mirrored counterpoint)—something Taneyev was particularly proud of composing: he pointed out in a letter to Tchaikovsky that this was in the spirit of the contrapuntal language of Mozart’s string quartets and quintets. However, the piece does not sound at all academic—it is more whimsical and delicately darting in its motion, while the central Trio has the character of a heavy-footed peasant dance. The Adagio ma non troppo slow movement is a comparatively short, bittersweet meditation. The Allegro molto finale, however, is a rondo of pronounced Russian character, with lively fugal writing in the episodes, the coda speeding up to a scurrying, excited finish.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2008

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