Трио для фортепиано, альта и виолончели Es-dur, WoO 38

Время создания: 1790-91 г.

1. Allegro moderato
2. Scherzo. Allegro ma non troppo
3. Rondo. Allegretto

Эмиль Гилельс (фортепиано)
Леонид Коган (скрипка)
Мстислав Ростропович (виолончель)
Москва, 1956

Among Beethoven's numerous works composed during his last two years in Bonn, those in the sonata style are generally the weakest. These include an unfinished movement for a symphony in C minor, a trio for piano, flute, and bassoon and the Trio for piano, violin, and cello in E flat major, WoO 38.

Discovered after the composer's death, the trio was published in 1830 in Frankfurt. According to Anton Gräffer's manuscript catalogue of Beethoven's works, begun in September 1827, WoO 38 was initially intended to be part of the Op. 1 set of trios. This is difficult to believe, if only because the work is in three movements, unlike the four of each trio in Op. 1. Furthermore, the compositional style is not nearly as advanced as that of the Op. 1 Trios. Throughout, the piano dominates the proceedings; later works in the genre show a more egalitarian approach.

Beethoven's understanding of the basics of sonata-form structure are clear in the opening Allegro moderato. Without introduction, the movement opens with rapid sixteenth-note figures that constitute the first part of the main theme. In a predictable manner, the transition to the dominant begins with a restatement of these first measures, followed by a new idea that pushes the rhythm forward. The secondary material, on the dominant, is exceptionally unmelodic, consisting of rapid scales and arpeggios. The development section focuses on the opening sixteenth-note figure, played in the strings against a harmonic background on the piano. In the recapitulation, Beethoven extends the first ten measures of the exposition, developing the material further.

The E flat major Scherzo departs slightly from tradition in that the second half is built entirely from the first, but the material is expanded almost in a developmental fashion. The trio section, also in E flat, is more relaxed and fluid than the Scherzo and its formal structure is very traditional.

Beethoven orchestrates the theme of the Rondo finale in such a way that all of the instruments play in the same range, creating a muddy, dense sound. Although there are a few chromatic inflections in melodic passages, the episodes never move away from E flat. Beethoven creates variety among the rondo theme appearances through surprisingly subtle moments of both variation and reassignment of the material to new instruments.

(John Palmer, Rovi)