Movement 1: Tranquilly flowing
Movement 2: Scherzo di stile antico
Movement 3: Rondo: Con moto ma non allegro
Benjamin entitled his E major middle movement Scherzo di stile antico, but there is little that immediately strikes the ear as archaic in this very rapid scherzo that skitters its way above a single nagging repeated bass note. Perhaps he was thinking of the more or less strict canonic imitations (an ‘antique’ discipline) between the violin and the piano’s right hand. The romantic tune of the trio section turns itself after a while into a suppressed waltz; the scherzo returns, deftly abbreviated.
The finale is a good-natured rondo with a rather French-pastoral main tune. Very soon, however, the basic 3/4 time changes to 5/4 and the first movement’s opening idea is briefly heard; indeed the episodes of this rondo tend to reveal reminders of the first movement, often intermingled with the rondo theme as if through a mysterious osmosis. The movement drives towards its conclusion with increasing brilliance, rising at last to a cadenza-like outburst from the violin marked con summa forza ed ectasia (with fullest force and ecstasy) before the decisive final bars.
from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2014