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The lyric charm of these two lamenting trios is all-encompassing of Romantic Russian chamber music, and is reflected in the empathy of the performances by this outstanding Russian trio. Glinka's Trio was originally scored for clarinet, bassoon and piano, but—especially in Russia—the music is more often heard in this version. The original use of wind instruments may have led Glinka to encapsulate the work into four relatively brief movements; in any event, the Trio is beautifully composed and proportioned. It is prefaced in the score by a quotation in French which can be translated as 'I have known love only through the unhappiness it causes'—the consequence of a series of unsuccessful love affairs.
Tchaikovsky's heartbreak was the untimely death of Nikolai Rubinstein in 1881 aged only 45, and soon after he composed his only Piano Trio in his dear friend's memory. Elegiac throughout reflecting markings in the score such as piangendo (weeping), both this trio and Glinka's are perhaps musical manifestations of the saying: 'When a Russian is sad, he is very sad: when a Russian is very sad, then he is at his very best.'