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Trio No.1, Op.3 - Francois Martin

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F. Martin - Trio No.1, Op.3 (Excerpt)

F. Martin - Trio No.1, Op.3 -Full Piece Recording

Composer: Walter Steinkauler (1873-1921)

 

I couldn't find a detailed biography for Steinkauler anywhere.  Earsense says he was German and lists his birthday (April 9, 1873) and death-day (Dec 15, 1921). So... shrug?

Date: 1904

Original Instrumentation: Violin, viola, cello

 

Movements:    

Trio No.1:

  1. Canon alla Seconda - Allegretto

  2. Fugue - Andante

Trio No.2:

  1. Canon alla Sesta - Adagietto

  2. Fugue - Allegro Moderato

Why this one:

 

I like fugues and I had not yet done a canon, and that combined with Steinkauler's essentially nonexistent online footprint made this one appeal to me.

Description:  

Trio No.1

Movement 1 - Canon alla Seconda - Allegretto

Key:  A

Time: 12/8  BPM=Eighth note 225  

 

A canon is a piece that starts with a melody in one instrument or voice and then starts adding instruments/voices that imitate that melody.  Think Pachelbel's Canon in D or Row, Row, Row your boat.  Canon alla Seconda means "Canon on the second" meaning the second part comes in up a second from the first.  

In this case, the cello starts the movement on a C# and the viola comes in one measure later with the same melody, but starting on D.  The violin doesn't play that melody, instead playing its own driving, mostly triplet melody throughout.

This leads back into a slight variation on the B section before some gentle chords signal the end of the piece.

Performance:

I did the viola part first.  It wasn't technically challenging, but I had a heck of a time keeping my place.  I ran into something similar in the Grell piece, which is also in 12/8, where I kept losing track of what measure I was in since I had to subdivide one 12/8 measure into four measures of 3/4.  It's purely a conceptual / cognitive load issue, but it was kind of taxing.  

When I finished recording, I was not on the measure number i should have been and it took me forever to find the problem.  I had been practicing it incorrectly and was playing a dotted half note as a dotted quarter which caused me to lose a measure.  There's a repeat in this movement, and I shorted the note both times through.  (I guess my consistency is admirable?)  This being the first part I laid down it wasn't obvious at all just by listening.  

I breezed through the violin part.  I played a warmup take and then a for reals take and there were probably only two measures I had to touch up after.

It was a similar story with the cello; my first take was really good and I only had a few small adjustments to make.

Movement 2 - Fugue - Andante

Key:  A

Time: 2/4  BPM=75  

 

A fugue is "a contrapuntal composition in which a short melody or phrase (the subject) is introduced by one part and successively taken up by others and developed by interweaving the parts." (reference)

The subject in this movement is a four bar melody introduced by the violin, then taken up by the viola down a fourth, then the cello an octave down from the violin.  The parts quickly start to weave together and it becomes pretty hard for me to parse them as individual voices.  (Not a criticism).  There's lots of accidentals throughout.

Performance:

I had no issues with the viola or violin parts, both of which were mostly in first position and pretty easy.  

The cello part, however, was rather difficult. easily the most challenging part in this entire piece.  Learning the movement required a ton of prep work as there were a lot of places I needed to shift positions quickly, including into annoying half positions, and the fingerings were tricky.  I had to work out where the best place on the neck to play the part and figure out where the most seamless shift points were.  It didn't take me too long to actually record as I was really prepared but it was tough.  I had trouble in all of the six or so parts I thought I'd have trouble with.

Trio No.2

Movement 1 - Canon alla Sesta - Adagietto

Key:  F

Time: 4/4  BPM=75

Canon alla Sesta means "Canon on the sixth" meaning the second part comes in up a sixth from the first.  In this movement, the cello starts the movement on an F, the viola comes in one measure later with the same melody starting on D, and then the violin starting on Bb.

 

This movement is a slow Adagietto and is almost exclusively quarter notes and half notes.  It's macro structure is ABA.

 

The A section in the key of F, but the B section modulates to Ab.  This is a pretty crappy key for string instruments. If Walter Steinkauler was alive, I would think of a strongly worded letter and imagine that I sent it to him and then he replied with an apology.

 

The violin and viola are mostly in first position but there's a lot more movement in the cello.

 

Performance:

This was the easiest, and slowest, movement of the piece.  I had no trouble with any of the parts.  The Ab section took some work in the preparation phase for the cello, as Ab isn't a key I've internalized very well and the part is very and I had to really plan the position shifts.  

Movement 2 - Fugue - Allegro Moderato

Key:  F

Time: 4/4  BPM=105

This quick-ish fugue kicks off with the violin, then the viola a fourth down, and then the cello an octave below the violin.  The subject is a descending triad arpeggio followed by an octave leap up and then a long run of eighth notes.  

 

Similar to the second movement of Trio 1, there's a lot of accidentals throughout.  And again, it's really hard for me to parse its structure or harmonies.

 

Performance:

 

No issues with any of the parts here.  They're all mostly in first position and while there's some sections with a lot of accidentals sprinkled in, none of them are all that hard.  F is not a challenging key for me.

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