Hereford Concert Society with funds from West Midlands Arts

  • pf vc vn
  • 33 min

Programme Note

John Joubert: Piano Trio, Op. 113

Aria (adagio)
Sonata (allegro vivace)
Passacaglia (lento)

Like the Viola Sonata my Piano Trio is laid out on a three-movement plan. Unlike the earlier work, however, the central movement is fast and the two outer movements slow. It is also broader in scope and more substantial in scale, perhaps reflecting the wider prospects opened up by the medium. The first movement has something of the character of a Barcarolle. Of its two main ideas the first is an elegiac melody, first presented by the strings against an undulating ostinato figure on the piano. The second, a dotted, stepwise theme, is first heard on the cello, accompanied by pulsating piano chords. In the second half of the movement these two themes are repeated in reverse order, each of them elaborated and embellished in different ways.

The second movement has the function of a scherzo but the form of a sonata first movement, the first subject of which is begun by all three players in pianissimo unison. The second subject is first heard on the cello and is based on five notes taken from the opening linear idea. The development takes the form of an energetic fugue which climaxes at the moment when the first subject material takes over again and initiates the recapitulation.

The finale is an extensive Passacaglia, whose opening eight-bar theme is played in unison by both strings and piano. There follow fifteen variations. In the twelfth and thirteenth the theme is transferred from the bass to become the uppermost part, turning to the major for the last two to bring the work to a forceful and positive end.

The Piano Trio was commissioned by the Hereford Concert Society with financial assistance from West Midlands Arts. It was first performed by the Joubert Trio at the Bishop’s Palace, Hereford in 1987. I revised it earlier this year by lengthening the first movement and cutting two of the original seventeen variations from the finale.

© John Joubert 2002