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J. Rey String Trio in C Major - Allegro Cantabile (Excerpt)

J. Rey String Trio in C Major - Full Piece Recording 

Composer: Jean-Baptiste Rey  (1734-1810)

Rey was a French composer and the longest tenured conductor of the Paris Opera.  One neat tidbit is that he conducted the orchestra during Napoleon's coronation.

Date: Published circa 1801


Original Instrumentation: Violin, viola, cello


  1. Allegro tempo di cappella

  2. Allegro cantabile

Why this one:


I found this one around the same time I found the Leonardo Moja piece in the violin, viola. cello section of imslp.  It looked interesting and was fairly short.  There's basically no recordings of any of Rey's work online (with one exception, below.)  Also, I thought the bit about Napoleon's coronation was a fun factoid about the composer.

I had kind of a philosophical crisis a few days before I laid the cello part down for this, as I found a recording of the second movement on Soundcloud.  I decided to push on with it, as the recording wasn't the complete piece and is only available for streaming on SoundCloud.  Also I had spent a lot of time practicing and it hurt my soul to abandon ship.  But this is probably going to bother me.

Also discovered that on May 25, 2023 (after I had recorded 2 of the parts) a midi version of this was uploaded to YouTube.  The uploader, Dean Crocker, has the first movement WAY slower than I played it.  Movement 1 is in cut time, and I never really know what to do tempo wise in those situations.   I like the brisker tempo of my recording, but then again, I've also heard it seven thousand times, so Crocker's MIDI version is going to naturally sound too slow to me.   



Movement 1 - Allegro tempo di cappella

Key:  C

Time: 2/2  BPM = half note 120


This cut-time movement kind of feels like a fugue, with sequential instrument entrances and the parts maintaining that staggered imitation feel throughout.  There's a lot of syncopation and the instruments contribute evenly.  The parts are really intertwined; I have kind of hard time parsing what the individual instruments are doing.  It goes by really quickly and there isn't much pause for a breathe.


The harmony overall is pretty straightforward, starting in C and then modulating to G about a third of the way through.  It's a pretty standard modulation for a Classical piece.

The movement ends on kind of a weird unresolved chord just hanging there.  Not sure what to make of that.


This one overall wasn't particularly physically demanding or technically challenging,  but the syncopated rhythms were a little tricky.  This is mostly because of the cut time, as the base division is a half note and the syncopations fall between the metronome pulses.  This is mostly a conceptual challenge for me; I don't have problem with syncopation, even off-pulse syncopation, in 4/4.   I have 4/4 more internalized.  There's just a tiny bit of extra processing I need to do in cut time and it trips me up sometimes, especially in a briskly paced piece like this one.


I recorded the cello part first, then the viola, then the violin.  I didn't have much trouble with the cello part, and the viola and violin parts went pretty well.  The violin was the most difficult, but still, it wasn't all that hard.  A couple short passages required a little work up front to figure out the best way finger placement and position, but weren't actually hard to play once I settled on how to play them.


I'm not sure what "Allegro tempo di cappella" means.  "Cappella" means "chapel" in Italian, so.... "quickly, at the speed of the chapel?"  Also, I misspelled Cappella as Capella in my original google search, which confused me very much when I read that it meant "little goat" in Latin.  Though, I would like a song to be written "Quickly, at the speed of a little goat."

Also, Capella is a star in the Auriga constellation and is the sixth brightest star in the sky.  (Not relevant to this, but whatever.)

Movement 2 - Allegro cantabile

Key :   C

Time: 4/4   BPM=115

This is a violin heavy movement, with the viola mostly and the cello firmly in a support role.  I can't really put my finger on why, but this piece definitely feels very in the Classical (capital C) style.  It feels... formal? 

The main theme of this movement shows up right away in the violin with a simple motif in C major that repeats 3 times, then some flowing 16th note runs.  The underlying harmony is a pretty (western) standard I IV I V chord progression.  

The theme then repeats in the viola up a fifth in G, before being handed back to the violin in the home key.  This third run-through of the theme ends with a modulation via an F# diminished chord pulling to the key of G, where the piece stays for a while.  The violin stair steps down with a 2 eighth note, 4 sixteenth note idea before transitioning some long sixteenth note runs ending with all 3 instruments hammering on a G major chord.

The main theme then returns in C.  It ends more dramatically than it does in the opening as a transition to the coda / finale.


The cello part went smoothly.  I was having an off day when I did the viola part but it still went ok as all told it really wasn't all that difficult.  There were couple of 16th note runs that I had to touch up.

The violin part was rather difficult with what felt like half the movement being just run after run of sixteenth notes.  There wasn't much respite and while not all of the runs were difficult it was a challenge to be consistent. "Oh so you didn't have any fret buzz, missed notes, ghost plucks, muddy articulation, or rhythm wonk on that group of sixteenth notes, did you?  Now do it 70 more times in a row. Idiot."  My first pass was actually pretty good, but I still had a lot of punching in to do.   

The sixteenth note runs that were actually quite difficult (e.g. 1:46-1:51, 2:15-2:21), with some combination of complicated fingerings, fast position changes, and/or ugly string crossings, took some time to get right.  Though, as happened on the Koczwara, these really obviously hard parts were also the ones I practiced the most rigorously, and so went faster than I had anticipated.

I discovered a couple of places where I had to change the way I was playing it to fix a subtle at speed issue I didn't notice when I was practicing which led to a couple of ugly fights against my muscle memory.  These were the bits that actually took the longest to nail down.

I found a couple of places where I had rushed slightly on the mandola, which threw me off a bit on the mandolin. 

Also my mandolin has a sharper attack than my mandola.  The sound waveform peaks more quickly, even when with the same pick stroke.  I guess you could say the mandolin "responds" faster.  So even if I pick them at literally the exact same time on the beat, the peak variance can make them sound out of sync.  It's something I need to keep in mind and compensate for.

I also got tripped up on a couple of ostensibly really easy sections that psyched myself out on.  Overall it was a tough session, but not a frustrating one, and it only took marginally longer than I had expected.

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