Piano trios

Edited: July 13, 2020, 11:07 AM · Hi,

I recently played Schubert trio n°2 and I'm looking for another piano trio.
The problem is that the pianist can't play pieces harder than Schubert's trio n°2 (and the pianist also had a lot of difficulties for playing the trio)
So, that means that Tchaïkovsky, Brahms and Mendelssohn trios are out of question.
I think these may be easier than the Schubert Eflat major:
- Beethoven op 70 n 1 ( ghost )
- Beethoven op 97 ( Archduke )
- Mozart trios
- Dvorak trio op 65 n°3

Is there any trio that you'll add/remove of this list?
Which trio on this list would you advice me to play?

Waiting impatiently for your answers!


Replies (12)

Edited: July 13, 2020, 1:37 PM · I am not an expert in difficulty on piano. However, according to the pianist with whom I played Schubert no. 1, it is the easier one of the two.

As to suggestions:

I second Mozart with the caveat that Mozart is always harder than it looks at first (especially, I fear, for the piano; the only time our trio flunked a performance--house concert--was when the pianist stumbled over the numerous sixteenth's passages in the last movement of Mozart's C-Major trio).

Haydn is obviously suited, some of his later trios are marvelous, not just the famous Gipsy one. The downside is the uniformly uninteresting cello part.

Beethoven: You are focussing hard on the most famous ones. Try opus 1, I know no. 1 and no. 3, both great and with three interesting parts. I have never even heard no. 2 but would be surprised if it were not worth an effort. Op. 70/2, the companion piece of the "Ghost" is more mellow but very appealing also and I believe not quite as hard as the Ghost or the Archduke.

Dvorak: I have played number one and the Dumki, both comfortable for the above mentioned pianist, the Dumki is great fun, no. 1 is not one of Dvorak's stellar masterworks. I have no doubt that all 4 Dvorak trios will be accessible for your pianist.

With the same pianist we also worked on Shostakovich's piano trio (no. 2). It is one of the highlights of the repertoire and quite playable. Most of the piano part is relatively straightforward (the first movement is apparently downright easy) but it contains also a few very tricky passages. But a pianist who could handle Schubert e-flat should be able to do it, especially as there are only few sections that need a lot of practice. You'll need a cellist with iron nerves though for the beginning in artificial harmonics.*

A rarely played work is Debussy's trio. It was composed when Debussy's was still a student and does not yet sound like Debussy. That said it is very charming and not terribly difficult., hardest maybe for the cello.

*Tip: This difficult cello passage is quite easy to play on the violin (in harmonics). So if the cellist takes over the violin part for the first section one can still play the piece reasonably close to the intended sound.

Edited: July 13, 2020, 9:45 PM · In addition to Haydn op. 39 "Gypsy", look at Beethoven op. 11, it is delightful and not as difficult for the piano as either op. 70 trio. Like Albrecht says, op. 70 no. 2 is great, here are my kids playing the first movement last summer, https://youtu.be/ix5ET-m899A, difficulty is more or less similar to the Ghost. (Archduke is tough.) Also agree on his suggestion of the Dumky, and that the Shostakovich isn't out of range, https://youtu.be/nMAxqq8BbB4.

Some others to consider are the single-movement Tchaikovsky 'Elegiaque' composed when he was 19 (Borodin Trio playing this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrcAunvpto8, and the surprisingly accessible Bloch Three Nocturnes, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2VSeQmKzgs.

Edited: July 13, 2020, 10:18 PM · there are forty plus Haydn piano trios, most of them very good and playable.
Edited: July 14, 2020, 4:32 AM · Piano trios that are easy for the piano is almost an oxymoron, but probably there is quite a selection available from the many now-obscure composers from the classical period, who composed for the amateur market. I know this was a big thing back then, but I don't know any details. And, also another vote for Beethoven opus 1, let your pianist check that out, it is great fun to play and beautiful.
Edited: July 14, 2020, 5:23 AM · If you're looking for easy and not just less difficult, Frank Bridge wrote nine Miniatures for Piano Trio for a student of his and her sister. They are short and musically satisfying; the sheet music has to be ordered as three sets of three. These are effectively the B side of https://open.spotify.com/album/2HJU4Sxxqb6M1yI79z0Y1y, also individually on youtube.
July 14, 2020, 7:15 AM · I strongly recommend Beethoven's most lovely op. 70,2 in Eb Major. I think nowhere else he matches Franz Schubert as here. Very nice are also Beethoven's variations for Trio op. 121b
Edited: July 14, 2020, 9:49 AM · I'm often the pianist in this arrangement. The Haydn "Gypsy" trio is playable -- but if you're taking the last movement at it's traditionally fast tempo, that can be quite hard then. More generally playable, in my opinion, is the D Major trio, Hob XV:24. Again, it really depends on how blistering fast you need your prestos to be. The D Major trio is lovely too -- the last movement has that pretty counterpoint at the beginning in the piano. Also this trio is a LITTLE more interesting for the cellist than the Gypsy.
July 14, 2020, 9:53 AM · You might try Harold Haynes' book: Chamber Music Repertoire for Amateur Players. It has an indication of difficulty for each piece, and it includes a.o. piano trios.
Edited: July 14, 2020, 11:43 AM · As easy piano trios go, the Bridge miniatures are a good choice.

There's also a short Allegretto for piano trio by Beethoven, WoO 39. It was composed for his friend's ten-year-old daughter, with an accordingly easy piano part. When I was an undergrad, I was able to learn, rehearse, and perform it in less than two weeks, straight off a wrist injury that kept me from playing piano at all for more than a month. (I was still wearing a rigid wrist brace when performing it.)

July 15, 2020, 5:07 AM · Thanks for your answers!
I'm going to listen to your suggestions and play one of them.


July 15, 2020, 12:49 PM · In general, for chamber music with piano, let the pianist take the lead in choosing repertoire. They have more notes, have to practice more, their part is frequently technically more difficult, and, skilled pianists that want to do this are uncommon.
July 15, 2020, 8:31 PM · Boccherini might be worth checking out

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Sejong Music Competition
Sejong Music Competition

Find an Online Music Camp
Find an Online Music Camp

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases



Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins


Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine