Leopold String Trio
Those who have yet to experience these miniature masterpieces are in for a treat. The Leopold String Trio, considered one of the world’s most outstanding string trios, here perform these works with remarkable virtuosity and expression.
Dohnányi’s evocative five-movement Serenade in C (1902) is typical of nineteenth-century writing, heavily influenced by Brahms and by the traditions of the composers’ homeland – in this case Hungarian folk melodies. The haunting fourth movement (it is a set of five variations) with its chorale-like theme is a beautiful piece with an almost Schubertian lyricism.
In contrast Schoenberg’s String Trio (1946) is a single movement which comprises five spans, three ‘Parts’ divided by two ‘Episodes’, and is the last in a significant body of chamber music for strings which had encompassed five string quartets and the string sextet Verklärte Nacht. It simultaneously offers the most extreme writing, both technically and emotionally. He employs many string tricks – trills, tremolandos, harmonics, pizzicato, col legno – creating a ‘psychological storm’ of rhythmic outbursts of frightening intensity.
In 1923 the Czech-born Martinu moved to Paris to join the avant-garde; there he experimented with jazz and neoclassicism in the manner of Les Six. The String Trio No 2 (1934) is in two movements, its floating, lyrical passages and mild use of folksong create a magical, mysterious atmosphere.