Фортепьянное трио №4 си-бемоль мажор ("Gassenhauer"), Opus 11

Посв. графине Maria Wilhelmine von Thun, 1798

1. Allegro con brio
2. Adagio
3. Tema: Pria ch`io l`impegno. Allegretto

Вильгельм Кемпф, фортепиано
Karl Leister, кларнет
Pierre Fournier, виолончель

For his earliest publications, Beethoven avoided the genres in which his predecessors Haydn and Mozart had garnered their greatest respect: the symphony, string quartet, and opera. Most of Beethoven's chamber music for winds dates from his early years; the popularity of such ensembles did not survive the end of the eighteenth century. It seems Beethoven did not consider his works for winds very important and may have looked upon such compositions as preliminary studies for the use of winds in his symphonies.

The finale, a set of variations, is based on the theme of the trio Pria ch'io l'impegno, from Joseph Weigl's opera L'amor marinaro of 1797. Weigl (1766-1846) was a composer and conductor at the Kärntnertor Theater in Vienna. The most sensible tale of the origins of the Trio, Op. 11, is found in Thayer, who suggests that a local clarinetist asked Beethoven to employ the Weigl theme in the finale of the work, as the tune was very popular at the time. The publication, in 1798 by Mollo in Vienna, is dedicated to Countess Maria Wilhelmine von Thun, the mother-in-law of Prince Karl Lichnowsky, one of Beethoven's chief patrons. A contemporary review of the trio notes Beethoven's "unusual harmonic knowledge."

Differences between the clarinet and optional violin part are few: descending lines in the clarinet are altered in the violin part when they would pass below its range, and some of the single notes in the clarinet part are written in double- or triple-stops for the violin. The most striking feature of the Allegro con brio first movement is the transition between the first and second themes. After a convincing modulation to the dominant, F major, what sounds like a second theme begins, but on D major. This quickly dissolves into fragments of the first theme and leads to the actual second theme, appearing first in the piano in F major. Beethoven forgoes the D major episode in the recapitulation. Beethoven sets the central Adagio in E flat major. In sonata form with a brief development, the movement's recapitulation is highly decorated. The finale is as much a vehicle for Beethoven's piano virtuosity as it is an example of his variation technique. The first variation is for piano alone and features detached runs and tremolo technique. The fourth variation, on the tonic minor, brings with it a moment of reflection before the piano, in another flamboyant outburst, abruptly changes the mood with a fortissimo entrance at the beginning of the fifth variation. The theme is most clearly perceptible in the sixth variation, while the aggressive seventh variation, again on the tonic minor, is built of rhythmic fragments of the theme in true Beethovenian fashion. Only the broad outline of the theme remains in the elegant eighth variation. The final variation again clearly articulates the theme before slipping momentarily into G major and 6/8 meter for a developmental coda that eventually moves back to the tonic and opening meter.

(All Music Guide)