Piano Trio

Franz Schubert

Piano Trio in Bb major

D28 • “Sonata in one movement”

About this work

One of just a handful of pre-1813 chamber compositions that in the first place were actually finished by Franz Schubert and in the second place were somehow able to survive down to the present day, the single-movement Piano Trio in B flat major. D. 28 was in fact called a "Sonata" by its composer. Schubert wrote the piece in 1812 during his last days as a teenage choirboy at the Imperial court chapel -- his voice broke during the summer of 1812, and he spent most of August composing this piece. Beyond its own intrinsic musical charms (which are admirable if in no way extraordinary), this "Sonatensatz," as it is sometimes called, can lay claim to being the first attempt by its composer to compose music for strings and piano, and to being the only previous exercise in piano trio composition upon which Schubert could draw when, in late 1827, he put to paper the pair of mature works for that ensemble (D. 898 and D. 929) that bear his name.

The "Sonatensatz," marked Allegro by Schubert, is not surprisingly more in the manner of Haydn or Mozart than it is the forerunner of anything we might think of as peculiarly Schubertian -- Schubert was, after all, a pupil of Antonio Salieri, Mozart's famous rival and Haydn's great admirer, at the time the piece was written. Still, it is in most ways equals, or surpasses the movements that begin the earliest of his surviving string quartets, and there is an energetic and very attractive sweep to the music, especially during the latter portion of the second subject, as Schubert reforms the four-beat meter, as Mozart often did, to seem more like cut time.