In 1832 Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47) wrote to his sister Fanny that is what about time he wrote some ‘good trios’. He had already started but left unfinished a trio for piano, violin and viola, and started the D minor trio shortly after, completing it in 1839. Mendelssohn’s friend the composer-pianist Ferdinand Hiller advised him after the completion to make several revisions to make the work sound as up to date as possible – Hiller, was a pupil of Hummel was a keen supporter of Berlioz and Liszt. The result is a work of perfect proportions, with a brilliant piano part, skilful counterpoint and a wonderful blend of classical poise and romantic passion. Schumann reviewing the Leipzig premiere on 1840 commented that the trio was a masterpiece that would ‘bring joy to our children and grandchildren’.
The second trio is dedicated to the great German violinist and composer Louis Spohr. Composed six years after the firstst trio, it is a very different work in mood. Tense, dark and almost symphonic in places, the work makes references to a chorale in Bach’s Cantata No.130, and Schumann’s Fantasiestucke Op.12 of 1837. – the two themes combining towards the end of the finale. The second trio was the last important chamber work Mendelssohn composed.
- This trio’s performance in Washington DC was praised by the Washington Post as "the most beautiful chamber music concert of the year".