Thursday, November 30, 2006

D. 929: Allegro moderato

I am currently listening to the later of the two Beaux Arts Trio recording of Schubert's E flat piano trio, D. 929. This one is from 1985 and on Philips. As part of the UMG rerelease and repackaging initiative, the one which brought you the Knappertsbusch Parsifal in snazzy new clothes, but the same as the Philips 50 set, this recording came out and it grabbed my attention.

I am a big fan of this one, in general, but especially the Andante con moto - thanks Stanley. However, I listened to the Allegro and the Allegro alone to see Schubert at the height of his genius as a chamber composer. The return of the Andante theme in the midst of the complexity of the Allegro provides a breakneck and ironic twist to an otherwise brilliant moment. Schubert shows how the severe, even Spartan, theme and orchestration of the Andante can be expanded into the lush environment of the Allegro. To a certain extent, and A.C. Douglas has done a better job of explaining this relationship, it recalls the Aria da capo of Bach's Goldberg Variations. A simple theme explodes into variations that are, to be sure, not simple. However, that theme was the progenitor of them. If that relationship doesn't accomplish that, though, the reappearance of the "march" theme - albeit with affronting boldness - certainly does.

However, the simplicity of the major theme of the Allegro deserves some small note. It, at first blush, reminds me of Schumann's "Mit Myrthen und Rosen," from the op. 24 Liederkreis, or the piano introduction. It is sort of wistful, simple - almost Kitschy - but, ultimately, effective.

Just some thoughts on a dreary afternoon.

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