If the Notturno
(so titled by the publisher) in E flat was indeed the original slow movement of the Trio, we can only guess at Schubert’s reasons for jettisoning it. But while it makes a less ready appeal than the Andante that replaced it, it uncannily prefigures the Adagio of the C major String Quintet, composed the following autumn. Indeed, it tends to sound like a trial run for the later movement, which realizes consummately the vein of timeless, contemplative ecstasy to which the Notturno
aspires. Like the Quintet’s Adagio, it presents a mesmerically sustained melody in close harmony in the inner voices (here violin and cello) against a ‘plucked’ accompaniment in the treble and bass, with the piano doing a fair imitation of a harp. And as in the Quintet the contrasting central section moves to the key of the Neapolitan second, a semitone above the tonic: E major to F minor in the Quintet, E flat to E major (and a change from duple to triple time) in the Notturno
. After an abridged reprise of the E major episode the coda, like that in the Quintet, contains a final harmonic shudder (with a sudden crescendo to ff
) just before the closing bars.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2001