Woldemar Bargiel is not a composer I had heard of. His connection to Clara Wieck (later Schumann) is intriguing. Born in 1828 in Berlin, Woldemar was Clara Wieck’s half-brother – younger by nine years. Despite their difference in age, they enjoyed a life-long closeness of music-making.
When Bargiel was born, Clara had already met Robert Schuman, who was to help Bargiel’s early career, advising him, guiding him, and helping him get his first works published. Although Bargiel composed symphonies, overtures, and choral works, he mainly focused on the piano. His piano trios enjoyed great success in his lifetime. Bargiel was also a respected teacher, conductor and collaborated with Brahms on editing the complete editions of both Robert Schumann and Frédéric Chopin.
It is easy to see why the members of the Leonore Piano Trio were drawn to Bargiel’s Piano Trio No 1 in F major, composed in 1851. It is beautifully melodic, full of contrasting episodes and moods and offers fabulously energetic piano parts. The Schumann brand of romantic music is discernible but the more you listen, the more you become aware of the Bargiel sound, especially to be found with the keyboard.
The opening Adagio is gorgeously mournful, a slow progression through a dark wood. The music eventually fans out as we exit this sombre realm. An upbeat march-like episode follows in the Allegro energico only to quieten again with exquisite piano interludes joined with more drama by the violin. The second movement, the Andante sostenuto unfolds with tender, inward-looking themes. The Scherzo-presto skips along whereas the Allegro con fuoco starts with an amazing fugue section, played with great gusto by pianist Tim Horton.
With Bargiel’s Piano Trio No2 in E flat major, the opening doesn’t sound like an opening at all, more like a piece mid-flow. The mood is both buoyant and leisurely with heroic high points. The theme in Andante starts off quietly and builds up very gradually with cello and violin with piano taking the helm. The piano retreats into an inward-looking theme only to swell up once more with the strings. Enjoyed the roller-coaster ride! A heavily syncopated Scherzo molto allegro follows. Again, the piano part, played with great vigour by Horton, was a joy. The last movement had an interlude of regret followed by wonderful rhythmic piano progressions again, which seem to be Bargiel’s trademark!
Bargiel’s Piano Trios are a great tonic and are played seamlessly by three internationally acclaimed artists, violinist Benjamin Nabarro, Gemma Rosefile on cello, with lynchpin Tim Horton on piano. This is a fine purchase for trio fans and lovers of romantic classical repertoire. A good opportunity to discover a new composer too.
Bargiel Piano Trios Nos 1 & 2 played by Leonore Piano Trio out on Hyperion.https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/a.asp?a=