Looking for piano cello violin trio pieces

May 12, 2019, 5:04 AM · My father (cello) and I (vioin) have recently been very lucky to have gotten to know a pianist eager to join us for chamber music fun. Over the past weeks we've played Hayden's Gypsy trio (thanks for the support on my tough part v.com!) and that was a good level of difficulty and general genre for us. I'm looking for ideas for what to tackle next.

Replies (19)

May 12, 2019, 7:25 AM · I would try the Mozart or early Beethoven trios next.
May 12, 2019, 8:36 AM · Thanks Tom. I'm just now looking at maybe the Archduke? It is so gorgeous.
Edited: May 12, 2019, 8:44 AM · What you will find is that the piano parts start to get really hard after Mozart. So I would agree entirely with Tom that a thorough study of the Mozart trios would be in order. This music will groove your ensemble, and if you can get a couple of professional coaching sessions for each piece as you learn it, so much the better. The only downside to Haydn and Mozart is that the cello parts are not quite as interesting, and they're better in later music. Cellists always want to do Mendelssohn D Minor. But if you can't play clean Mozart, the Mendelssohn will be utterly hopeless.
Edited: May 12, 2019, 3:43 PM · Grieg has a piano trio, Schubert has 2 - Op. 99 is glorious, difficult cello part, slow movement is glorious. Both Mendelssohn trios are wonderful. The Brahms trios are tough on the pianist.

Clara Schumann composed a nice piano trio, too.

Check out piano trios on IMSLP.org and take a look.

May 12, 2019, 11:27 AM · I don’t play violin or cello so I never have played piano trios so i will just give some interesting options regardless of technique.
The Ives
Rachmaninoff 2
Shostakovich
Ravel
Faure
All of Beethoven’s
Schubert
Schumann
May 12, 2019, 11:27 AM · I don’t play violin or cello so I never have played piano trios so i will just give some interesting options regardless of technique.
The Ives
Rachmaninoff 2
Shostakovich
Ravel
Faure
All of Beethoven’s
Schubert
Schumann
May 12, 2019, 12:52 PM · Kenji Bunch wrote music for the Ahn trio. I think a lot of that music is available.
May 12, 2019, 1:01 PM · Lets stay grounded, shall we? Those lists are too difficult at this time.

First of all you should let the pianist choose first. He/she is the one who almost always has the most difficult part by far.

I second those people who suggest Mozart or early Beethoven (leave the Archduke alone for now!) but even those are significantly harder than the Gipsy trio. If you listen to recordings* of Haydn trios, especially those he wrote later in life you'll find more of then worth playing and that may be another thing you could do first. Both Mozart and especially Beethoven are significantly more difficult technically than the Gipsy trio (for the strings) and they pose more ensemble difficulties. So be prepared to work. I recommend Beethoven op 1 no 1 especially. It is the first work Beethoven published and what a debut!

*If you are a member of IMSLP you can listen to many of them there.

One trio that we tackled right after Beethoven op 1 no 1 was Dvorak's trio no 1. It is not one of his very best works but I remember it as quite playable and we enjoyed it in spite of some overly long passages in it.

Edited: May 12, 2019, 7:12 PM · Thank you all so much! My father is so amazed and impressed with so much instant high quality guidance.

I ordred Bethoven Opus 1 number 1 - and the Archduke to aspire to - and we dug up from his home files a set of Mozart trios, and the rest we will aspire to!

I should add in case there are more thoughts, that the pianist is much more advanced than either of us are, and also my father is happy to play less interesting parts, if that helps.

(I should also add that they are both well into their eighties and still play beautifully, in case that is inspiring to anyone - it certainly is to me!)

May 12, 2019, 8:17 PM · One relatively easy and charming piece for piano trio that may be worth a day's study is a Beethoven Allegretto for piano trio that he composed as a gift for a friend's ten-year-old daughter.

I played that piece as an undergrad. I was originally going to play piano in a piano quartet, but sprained my wrist in a biking accident early on and dropped out, with the rest of the group continuing as a piano trio. As it turned out, I recovered relatively quickly and was able to start playing piano again about two weeks before the concert. Our coach decided there was enough time to get me back onto the program; I was able to prepare it with the violinist and cellist on two rehearsals and perform it with my right wrist still in a rigid brace.

Difficulty is around the easier end of Haydn, if I remember correctly.

Edited: May 12, 2019, 8:38 PM · I agree with Albrecht, remember that one reason why Haydn's "Gypsy Trio" is so popular is precisely because it's probably just about his easiest trio.

Of course you can also cherry-pick individual movements. There may be some Mozart or Beethoven off-speed movements or minuet-and-trio type movements that are a little easier than the standard allegros. Or there might be a Haydn trio where one of the fast movements is within your horizon and another movement still beyond you. I go to a summer camp where just about every year there is a certain Mendelssohn string quartet movement that is played by quite young children. (The other movements are quite high-level stuff.) They assigned my quartet Schubert's Rosamunde quartet and I had first violin -- I found it very challenging. But the irony was that the quartet I suggested was Haydn Op. 20 No. 5 but the organizers felt that would be too hard!

But for improvement as a player and as a trio, you really want to do you homework and find pieces that will raise your game. If you have private instruction and coaching of course that will go faster. If you don't have private instruction and/or coaching then you should be more careful about not aiming too high.

May 13, 2019, 10:28 AM · I have to take issue with this: The Gipsy trio is Haydn's most famous trio because it has a name attached to it--the only one of his trios with a name. Compositions hat have been given a name are often the most popular, especially in the case of Haydn who wrote such a lot of high quality music.

The Gipsy trio is not as easy as all that; it has its problems and those 16th in the last movement need to be practiced.

Also: Don't shoot too high, sure. But don't be too timid either. You can always try something daring, especially since in this case the pianist is really skilled. If you like why don't you try to sight read the Archduke (it sounds like your pianist would be up to it)? So long as you don't force anybody to listen nobody suffers any harm and you just might discover things. You have a right to play less than perfectly in such a setting.

If you want to work on something, sure, you should not overtax yourself, otherwise you'll be stuck with elementary problems and your progress will be disappointing.

May 13, 2019, 10:37 AM · I'm not a great violinist and I didn't have any trouble with the last movement of the Gypsy Trio. But I take Albrecht's point. Things with names always seem to bubble to the top: The Moonlight Sonata, etc.
May 13, 2019, 11:10 AM · I found my (violin) part in the Hayden Gypsy trio to initially be quite hard in places, getting used to the 4 sharps and some 5th position, some 2nd/4th position, and of course the speed of the third movement (which the pianist got a kick out of playing super fast) but with alot of practicing, I got, I would say very comfortable with it, and when we played it all together this past weekend I thought it sounded pretty good (which has maybe made me overconfident!) - good enough for the living room anyway. For me and for us as a new trio, it was alot of fun to work up to, super inspiring for me, as a fairly recent 'returner'.

I like the idea of trying a few, with some easier some harder and maybe working on two. We don't have a coach, wish we did, but the pianist doubles as a bit of a coach as much as he can! All of your suggestions and descriptions and caveats are incredibly helpful.

Yes i use IMSLP and my father and I check our parts to give some indication of feasibility for us, and listen on youtube to get a sense of the whole thing.

Another factor is that my father and I play together all the time whereas we only are with the pianist every few weeks, so the Hayden Gypsy trio was fun that way, as most of it works amazingly well as a duet.

Edited: May 13, 2019, 12:43 PM · I just remembered - back in the 1970s through the early 1990s my piano trio used to play for the annual graduation party for the local community college. We would play a number of light classics from an album I had (called "Everybody's Favorite Trios for Violin Piano Cello"* - we referred to it as "garbage music," pronounced as the French would). This was mostly music from orchestral classics, and not at all difficult. Once the party got into full swing and no one was listening we would play one of the Mendelssohn piano trios for our own amazement (and much too loud just so we could hear ourselves - this is not "garbage music").

* This sheet music is scarce, the only copy for sale I found is way overpriced and is this:

https://tredwellsmusic.com/everybodys-favorite-series-no-53-trios-for-violin-piano-cello-efs53-songbook-sheet-music-out-of-print

Similar albums are available on IMSLP.org at this URL:
https://imslp.org/wiki/Trio-Albums_(Various)

May 13, 2019, 12:53 PM · Another vote for Haydn and Mozart. Early Beethoven worth a look, but make sure you have your chops in order-- and a good pianist.
May 13, 2019, 3:10 PM · My pianist son and cellist daughter have played trio pieces the last three years: a couple of Bridge Miniatures and Haydn Gypsy the first year; additional Bridge, Beethoven op. 11, and Bloch Three Nocturnes the second year; Rachmaninoff Elegiaque no. 1 earlier this year, now starting Beethoven op. 70 no. 2. All of these are doable at a so-called early-advanced level I believe. Stretch goal for next year (but doable I hope) will be Brahms no. 3.

The Schubert trios would have worked well I think, but wanting something that contrasts more with the Beethoven. Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Saint-Saens, Arensky all discussed but out of range for now.

May 14, 2019, 10:04 AM · Stan that must be wonderful to hear your kids playing beauitfully together! Thanks again everyone for your suggestions - it is very helpful and i am much more oriented to the progressions of difficulty. I'll report back in a few weeks!
May 16, 2019, 2:05 AM · If I recall Haydn wrote something like forty piano trios, and there are at least fifteen that are musically deeply satisfying, and doable for good amateurs. The only downside is that the cello parts are usually not very independent.
I would recommend delving somewhat deeper in works from the classical period (late Haydn, Morzart and early Beethoven) before heading toward more challenging stuff like Rachmaninoff or even Dvorak (who usually writes quite instrument-friendly, but still ar concert level).

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