That tension. That calmness. That odd unity of conflicting emotions I sensed in César Franck’s Piano Trio Concertant No. 1, I also find it in his Piano Trio Concertant No. 3 in B Minor. The piano sets forth the forceful rhythm and the timbre while the violin and the cello weave their deliciously lyrical melodies, at times plaintful, at times reassuring. A piece of ravishing beauty that I did discover only very recently, I must admit. But it is never to late to discover excellence.
Franck wrote it in 1842 at the age of 20 and published it in 1843 as a part of a collection of three trios. It has three movements after the composer had removed one upon the advice of Franz Liszt. Liszt did much to encourage the young man to compose and he did his best to introduce the German audience to Franck’s trios. Felix Mendelssohn was full of praise for this early composition, he also served as a source of inspiration to Franck. The two men shared a passion for Johann Sebastian Bach’s compositions and were both rather proficient in contrapuntal technique.
As so often, words fail me to express the delight I feel when I am listening to Franck’s third trio. However I found a poem by Baudelaire that captures my ideas:
La musique souvent me prend comme une mer!
Vers ma pâle étoile,
Sous un plafond de brume ou dans un vaste éther,
Je mets à la voile.
La poitrine en avant et les poumons gonflés
Comme de la toile,
J’escalade le dos des flots amoncelés
Que la nuit voile;
Je sens vibrer en moi toutes les passions
D’un vaisseau qui souffre
Le bon vent, la tempête et ses convulsions
Sur l’immense gouffre
Me bercent. D’Autres fois, calme plat, grand miroir
De mon désespoir!
The Piano Trio Concertant in B Minor has been recorded by David Lively, Tatiana Samouil and Justus Grimm, soloists of La Monnaie.
© Charles Thibo