Piano Trio No.3

Robert Schumann

Piano Trio No.3 in G minor

Op. 110

About this work

Schumann wrote four trios for piano and strings and this G minor effort is the last of them. The unnumbered Phantasiestücke (1842) was the first and it was followed by No. 1 in D minor and No. 2 in F major, both dating to 1847. The G minor trio here, like the other three, is cast in four movements, the first of which is the longest and most rewarding. Marked Bewegt, doch nicht zu rasch (Agitated, but not too fast), it opens with a dark, restless theme of Romantic temperament played first by the violin, but quickly taken up by the cello. The music is full of passion and mystery here, Schumann achieving a profound expressive depth. A sweeter second theme is presented and the exposition is then repeated. After a stormy and imaginative development, the themes are reprised and the movement quietly concludes. The second movement, marked Ziemlich langsam (Rather slowly), features a lovely, passionate theme played by the strings and a turbulent middle section that leaves the impression its violent music is an intrusion on the serene beauty of the outer sections. The ensuing panel (Rasch -- Rapid), at about four minutes, is the shortest of the four movements. Its anxious, descending main theme alternates with a sweetly lyrical melody, then later with its chipper variant, both perfect foils for their dark sibling. The finale is marked Kräftig, mit humor, but the humor here comes across more as playfulness and charm. The main theme is ebullient in its folk-like charm and infectious downward runs, graceful and bright in its chipper mood. The thematic development that comes later is deftly imagined, as is the alternate material. This trio typically has a duration of just under half an hour.