Струнное трио D-dur, Opus 9 №2

Посв. Graf Johann Georg von Browne, 1796-98

1. Allegretto
2. Andante quasi allegretto
3. Menuetto: Allegro
4. Rondo: Allegro

Мстислав Ростропович, виолончель
Anne-Sophie Mutter, скрипка
Bruno Giuranna, альт

The three trios of Op. 9 came near the end of Beethoven's first period, and are generally considered among his finest early chamber works. Indeed, they are of a quality that even allows them to stand alongside many of the mature compositions in the genre. They are more ambitious works than their chamber predecessors, each consisting of four movements, and each showing structural and stylistic elements found in the then-new Haydn symphonies, such as the adoption of four movements, employed in all three Trios here. As a group they comprise a giant step forward for the composer, and may even be viewed as a significant precursor to his innovations in the realm of the symphony.

The D major Trio opens with a theme (Allegretto) delivered quietly on the violin, but almost as if the first page had been ripped from the score, or at least as if the first few bars had been skipped. A second theme is then given by all the instruments, playing forte, maintaining the generally jovial mood of the music. It is almost as if this melody, delivered so emphatically by all the instrumentalists, is being presented as the work's real beginning. A third theme, of a more restrained character (marked dolce) but also somewhat playful, is presented to complete the exposition. The development section uses all three themes imaginatively and concludes with the cello playing in its highest reaches. At this point a subtly veiled account of the opening melody is given to launch the reprise. The movement closes with a jovial and colorful coda.

The second movement is marked Andante quasi allegretto and is rather playful, despite some slightly menacing pizzicato playing accompanying the main theme. A second melody appears and maintains the generally lighter character of the music. The material is reprised, though in different and imaginative ways, and there follows a coda.

A Menuetto marked Allegro follows. The two-part structure is not unusual but the movement as a whole seems rather Scherzo-ish, owing to the tempo marking and to the middle-section trio. The music is delightful in its lightness and thematic appeal, though some have found the trio both threadbare but effectively atmospheric in its lack of melodic material, its hazy dark rhythmic elements, and its mysterious pianissimo dynamics.

The finale is a Rondo marked Allegro. It is interesting that in the first Op. 9 Trio, the G major, Beethoven fashioned a Presto finale, his first that was not only not a Rondo, but a genuine sonata-allegro movement. The composer here returns to a form with which he had been quite successful and comfortable. The main theme of this movement is jovial, rather simple and, at the outset, where it is delivered three times in succession by the cello, somewhat bland. As the music proceeds, this theme takes on greater character from the viola harmonies and from development in exchanges among all the instruments. A second theme appears, more lyrical in character, after which the main material is reprised. There is further and quite brilliant thematic development, and the work closes with the violin intoning the happy opening theme.

All three of the Op. 9 Trios were first published in Vienna in 1798. The dedicatee of the them was one of Beethoven's leading patrons, the Russian Army Officer, Count Johann Georg von Browne. A typical performance of the D major Trio lasts around twenty-five minutes.

(All Music Guide)