Danish Romantic Piano Trios

If you’re familiar with Denmark’s rich musical heritage, then you might already be predisposed to give this release a listen. If not, then let me encourage you to do so. These works compare favorably (I think) to those by the famous composers that inspired them — Brahms, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Wagner.

Peter Lange-Muller was a pianist as well as a composer. Robert Schumann was one of his major influences (Danish folk song being another). Indeed, his 1898 Trio for piano, violin, and cello in f minor, Op. 53 has a certain Schumann quality to it (and not just the piano part).

The work has a certain impulsive restlessness to it. But while Lange-Muller’s music is highly emotional, it never threatens to go off the rails the way some of Schumann’s later works seem to. Perhaps it’s the folk song element that keeps the work grounded. Nevertheless, Lange-Muller’s trio is an exciting and beautifully crafted work.

Niels W. Gade is represented by two works; the Piano Trio in F major, and the Piano Trio Movement. Gade became director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra after Mendelssohn’s death. His music also shows the influence of his colleague and friend. Gade was also influenced by Danish folk song. His 1863 trio has clean, uncluttered lines and the emotional restraint of Mendelssohn, but all with a completely original voice. His 1838 Piano Trio Movement is an interesting torso. The 22-year-old Gade may have been overly ambitious with his projected four-movement trio, but the surviving completed movement satisfies on its own.

Rued Langgard was best known for his orchestral works. Fjeldblomster (Mountain Flowers), written when he was fifteen, concludes the album. This short work shows Langgard’s love of Wagner in its construction, and only hints at the original composer Langgard would become.

Danish Romantic Piano Trios: Gade, Lange-Muller, Langgaard
The Danish Piano Trio
Dacapo 8.226119

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