Trio in A minor, Op. 188
Carl Reinecke was both the student of and the teacher of composers much more famous than he. Born in Hamburg, Germany, Reinecke began to compose at age seven, and first performed on piano at age twelve. By the time he was 20 he had studied with Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt. His esteemed students include Edvard Grieg, Leoš Janáček, and Max Bruch. Reinecke spent time teaching at the Cologne University and then at the Leipzig Conservatory, where he would remain for 35 years. As the director of the school, he brought it to a new realm of prestige. He conducted the Gewandhaus Orchestra for more than 30 years. Reinecke was a great admirer of Brahms and in 1869 he conducted the premiere of Brahm’s German Requiem. He is also the earliest-born pianist to have his playing preserved in any format, as he recorded piano rolls near the end of his life.
The Op. 188 Trio is comes from Reinecke’s fully mature work. The entire trio contains great dialogue; the three instruments are arm in arm the whole way through. The first movement is a beautiful mix of yearning and playfulness, with an idiomatic theme for oboe and superb interplay between the three instruments. The horn, playing a more subdued version of the theme, balances the oboe. The two dance around one another before the oboe returns to the main theme while the piano ripples underneath.
In the second movement, quicker and lighter than the first, the oboe and horn work in imitation throughout. Lasting only about two minutes, this scherzo is the shortest movement, and the piano plays a lyrical counterpart to the oboe and horn’s rhythmic back and forth.
The third movement is slow, with a short introduction on piano and oboe and then horn taking the lead. Piano enters and decorates the horn’s melody. The music builds in intensity through the middle of the movement, growing stormier and slightly faster. Then the horn reenters with the beginning placidity and builds again. The movement ends in with oboe and horn complementing one another in lovely harmony.
In the finale, the music returns to the quick wittiness of the second movement. There are lively chases starting and ending throughout and midway through the movement, the horn comes in with the dulcet melody from the third movement – which is then interrupted by the oboe, then the horn tries for the melody again, is again interrupted, and then the two of them play in dialogue with the piano until the bright ending.
– Jessie Rothwell