The main themes of the first movement of the Piano Trio (first performed by the St Cecilian Trio in 1956) are grave and songlike: but first violin and cello demand attention with a rhetorical unison, piano appending three distinct comments which are to play important roles later in the movement. In the central movement, violin follows cello in a two-part canon, piano responding with a consoling sequential phrase, and the process repeats in inversion. The emotional temperature rises in a more richly scored middle section, falls again as the canon is resumed. The seven-bar opening unison of the last movement establishes the harmonic basis for the eleven variations which follow. 3, 4 and 5 form a triple variation in which piano, violin and cello in turn carry forward the semiquaver movement; 7 and 8, a double canonic variation. A brief but weighty coda brings the Trio to an end conclusively and without unnecessary ceremony.
Piano Trio, Op. 54: I. Allegro con fuoco
Piano Trio, Op. 54: II. Andante
Piano Trio, Op. 54: III. Vivace energico