Isabelle Faust (violin), Sol Gabetta (Cello), and Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano) perform Franz Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat major for piano, violin, and cello, D. 929, one of the last compositions completed by the composer. This performance was recorded at the Solsberg Festival 2021.

Isabelle Faust (violin), Sol Gabetta (Cello), and Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano) perform Franz Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat major for piano, violin, and cello, D. 929, one of the last compositions completed by the composer. This performance was recorded at the Solsberg Festival 2021.

Franz Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2

Franz Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 100, D. 929, stands as a towering achievement in the chamber music repertoire. Composed in 1827, just a year before Schubert’s untimely death at the age of 31, this work showcases the composer’s profound depth of emotion, melodic inventiveness, and mastery of form. The trio is noted for its expansive length, which is unusual for chamber music of the time, offering a rich and varied emotional landscape that ranges from joyful exuberance to deep melancholy.

Schubert’s second piano trio is celebrated for its beautiful melodies, intricate interplay between the piano, violin, and cello, and its innovative approach to the traditional trio format. The work is imbued with a sense of lyrical expressiveness and harmonic richness that is characteristic of Schubert’s mature style. Its thematic material is both memorable and sophisticated, demonstrating Schubert’s skill in developing themes and motifs across the work’s extensive duration.

The E-flat major trio is often remarked upon for its dramatic contrasts and the emotional depth it conveys. Schubert integrates elements of his songwriting prowess into the chamber music setting, creating a work that is as intimate as it is grand. The piece also reflects the composer’s struggle with illness and the awareness of his own mortality, which adds a poignant layer to its reception and interpretation.

Despite its beauty and complexity, Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 was not widely known during his lifetime. It was only published posthumously and has since become a staple of the piano trio repertoire, celebrated by audiences and performers alike for its emotional resonance and technical challenges. The work has also found a place in popular culture, notably featured in films and performances that seek to evoke depth and introspection.

In performance, the trio demands not only technical proficiency from its musicians but also a deep sensitivity to its shifting moods and colors. Its enduring appeal lies in its ability to capture the full spectrum of human emotion, offering listeners a journey through joy, sorrow, hope, and despair. Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 remains a testament to the composer’s genius, a work that continues to move and inspire listeners with its timeless beauty and expressive power.


With the start times in the video:

  • 00:00 Allegro
  • 16:33 Andante con moto
  • 25:18 Scherzo. Allegro moderato – Trio
  • 32:09 Allegro moderato

1. Allegro

The first movement of Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 100, D. 929, marked “Allegro,” is a masterful exposition of thematic development and emotional expression, encapsulating the essence of Schubert’s late style. This movement opens with a lyrical, singing melody introduced by the piano, which is soon joined by the violin and cello, creating a rich tapestry of interwoven lines that exemplify the chamber music ideal of dialogue between instruments.

The movement is structured in sonata form, a common architectural framework for the time, consisting of exposition, development, and recapitulation sections, but Schubert’s treatment of this form is anything but conventional. The exposition presents two main themes: the first is warm and expansive, characterized by its lyrical beauty, and the second, introduced by the piano, brings a contrasting, more rhythmic character. This thematic diversity sets the stage for a movement that explores a wide range of emotions and textures.

In the development section, Schubert demonstrates his compositional prowess through the transformation and variation of the main themes, exploring new harmonic territories and creating moments of tension and release. This section deepens the emotional content of the movement, weaving a complex narrative that is both intellectually and emotionally engaging.

The recapitulation brings a return of the main themes, now altered by their journey through the development section, and leads to a coda that concludes the movement with a sense of resolution and fulfillment. Throughout the movement, the interplay between the piano, violin, and cello is of paramount importance, with Schubert assigning each instrument roles that range from leading to supporting, often blurring the lines between solo and accompaniment.

The first movement’s blend of lyrical melodies, harmonic richness, and structural complexity is a testament to Schubert’s ability to convey profound emotional depth within the classical forms of his time. It sets the tone for the entire trio, inviting listeners into a world of beauty, contemplation, and nuanced expression that characterizes Schubert’s late works. The Allegro is not just an opening movement but a profound statement in its own right, showcasing Schubert’s unique voice and his contribution to the chamber music repertoire.

2. Andante con moto

The second movement of Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 100, D. 929, is an Andante con moto, renowned for its serene beauty and underlying melancholic depth. This movement is particularly famous for its thematic material, which is based on the Swedish folk song “Se solen sjunker” (The Sun is Setting). Schubert’s use of this melody exemplifies his genius in transforming simple folk tunes into sophisticated musical ideas, imbuing them with a profound emotional weight.

In this movement, Schubert weaves the folk tune into a set of variations, each exploring different aspects of the melody’s emotional and musical possibilities. The theme is introduced in a straightforward manner, setting a reflective and somewhat somber mood. As the variations progress, Schubert explores a wide range of textures, dynamics, and harmonic colors, showcasing the individual voices of the piano, violin, and cello, as well as their collective timbral blend.

The variations are not merely technical exercises but are deeply expressive, each adding a new layer of emotional depth to the theme. Some variations emphasize the lyrical and singing quality of the melody, while others explore more rhythmic or dramatic aspects, highlighting the versatility and expressiveness of the chamber music ensemble.

The choice of a Swedish folk song as the basis for this movement speaks to the broader Romantic era’s fascination with folk music and national identity. However, Schubert’s treatment of the melody transcends its folk origins, transforming it into a piece that resonates with universal themes of nostalgia, longing, and the beauty of nature.

Performances of this movement require a delicate balance between technical precision and emotional expressivity. Musicians must navigate the variations with a sense of cohesion, ensuring that each variation feels like a natural progression from the last, while also bringing out the unique character of each section. The challenge lies in maintaining the simplicity and purity of the folk tune while conveying the complex emotions that Schubert layers upon it.

This movement has captivated audiences and performers alike with its graceful melody, intricate variations, and the depth of feeling it evokes. It stands as a testament to Schubert’s ability to create music of enduring beauty and emotional resonance, using a simple folk tune as the foundation for one of the most cherished movements in the chamber music repertoire.

3. Scherzo. Allegro moderato – Trio

The third movement of Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 100, D. 929, marked as “Scherzando: Allegro moderato,” embodies a lighter, more playful character compared to the profound depth and serenity of the preceding Andante con moto. This movement, adhering to the scherzo form that became a standard component of the classical and romantic chamber music and symphonic repertoire, serves as a delightful contrast to the emotional intensity found in other parts of the trio.

Characterized by its lively tempo and rhythmic vitality, the Scherzando is infused with a sense of joy and buoyancy. Schubert crafts this movement with a keen sense of balance between the three instruments, allowing each to participate fully in the spirited dialogue. The main theme is catchy and rhythmically engaging, featuring syncopations and sudden dynamic changes that contribute to a feeling of playful unpredictability.

Typical of a scherzo, the movement is structured around contrasting sections-the main scherzo theme alternates with a trio section that offers a moment of lyrical respite before the scherzo material returns. The trio section tends to be more melodic and subdued, providing a contrast to the energetic scherzo theme. Schubert’s mastery of form and texture is evident as he navigates these contrasting moods, weaving them together into a cohesive whole.

The scherzo’s charm lies not only in its lively rhythms and melodies but also in its structural ingenuity. Schubert utilizes the scherzo and trio sections to explore different musical ideas, yet maintains a sense of unity throughout the movement. The playful interplay between the piano, violin, and cello, along with the clever use of harmonic twists, showcases Schubert’s ability to create music that is both intellectually satisfying and emotionally engaging.

In performance, the Scherzando demands precision and agility from the musicians, as well as a deep understanding of the movement’s whimsical character. The players must convey the music’s playful spirit while navigating its technical challenges, including rapid passages, intricate rhythms, and precise ensemble coordination.

This movement provides a refreshing contrast within the trio, highlighting Schubert’s versatility as a composer. It exemplifies his skill in balancing different emotional and musical elements, creating a work that ranges from the deeply reflective to the joyously exuberant. The Scherzando: Allegro moderato is a testament to Schubert’s genius in crafting music that speaks to the full range of human experience, offering listeners a moment of light-hearted reprieve amidst the trio’s broader emotional landscape.

4. Allegro moderato

The fourth movement of Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 100, D. 929, marked “Allegro moderato,” serves as a compelling conclusion to this expansive and emotionally rich work. This finale embodies a blend of the lyrical, dramatic, and virtuosic elements that characterize the trio as a whole, showcasing Schubert’s masterful ability to integrate diverse musical ideas into a cohesive and satisfying conclusion.

This movement is structured in a rondo form, a common choice for the final movements of classical and romantic chamber works, which allows for the return of a main theme (the “refrain”) interspersed with contrasting sections (the “episodes”). Schubert’s use of rondo form here is both traditional and innovative, as he infuses the recurring theme with a wealth of emotional depth and complexity, while the episodes explore a variety of moods and textures.

The main theme of the finale is memorable for its rhythmic vitality and melodic appeal, establishing a mood of forward momentum and optimistic resolution from the outset. As the movement progresses, Schubert introduces episodes that contrast with the refrain in mood, key, and texture, including passages that recall the introspective beauty and melodic richness found in earlier movements of the trio. This interplay between the main theme and the episodes creates a dynamic and engaging musical journey.

Schubert’s genius in this movement lies in his ability to weave together these contrasting elements into a seamless whole, balancing moments of introspection with those of exuberance. The finale is marked by a sense of culmination and closure, as themes from previous movements are subtly referenced, providing a sense of unity and coherence to the trio as a whole.

The Allegro moderato demands a high level of technical skill and expressive nuance from the performers, who must navigate its varied landscapes with agility and sensitivity. The movement requires tight ensemble playing, as the musicians must respond to each other with precision to bring out the contrasts and connections between the different sections.

In performance, the finale of Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 is often celebrated for its emotional depth and technical brilliance, offering both performers and listeners a rewarding musical experience. It encapsulates the essence of Schubert’s late style, characterized by a rich harmonic language, inventive form, and a profound expression of human emotion. The movement, and the trio as a whole, stands as a testament to Schubert’s mastery of the chamber music genre, cementing his place as one of the great composers of the Romantic era.


M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, a former road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. This website's all income goes directly to our furry friends. Please consider supporting me on Patreon, so I can help more animals!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.