During the 1850s Berwald composed a number of chamber works with piano, largely because of his interest in the pianist, Hilda Thegerström. It was with her in mind that he wrote his two piano quintets and the Piano Concerto. In all he composed five piano trios, four of which are numbered. The first in C major dates from 1845 and the first numbered essay in the genre, a Trio in E flat was composed four years later. The Piano Trio No 2 in F minor comes from 1851 and the autograph score is dated 3 March. The piece is dedicated to Matthäus von Rosthorn, an Austrian businessman in whose home at Oed bei Wien the Berwalds had stayed at the time of their son Hjalmar’s birth. It is basically a three-movement piece played without a break. After the last movement, which Berwald calls a Scherzo, he returns us to the material of the opening in a short coda of some sixty-five bars. The writing is full of original touches and rhythmic vitality, and the placid Mendelssohnian surface is disturbed by all sorts of characteristically Berwaldian flourishes and, in the theme of the slow movement, a sudden and unexpected modulation down a semitone from F to E major. The Swedish historian Ingvar Andersson speaks in his two-volume study of ‘the wine which Berwald’s music offers us: at its finest moments, dry, elegant and of great finesse’—and on hearing the F minor Trio, one is tempted to add sparkle.
from notes by Robert Layton © 1997