Violinist Chad Hoopes, cellist Clive Greensmith and pianist Gilles Vonsattel perform Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio op.50, first movement Pezzo elegiaco: Moderato assai. This was recorded in March 2019, in a performance for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at Alice Tully Hall, New York.
Tchaikovsky wrote his only piano trio between 1881 and 1882. Having been asked to write a trio by his patron Nadezhda von Meck, Tchaikovsky was initially reluctant, writing to her:
’You ask why I have never written a trio. Forgive me, dear friend; I would do anything to give you pleasure, but this is beyond me … I simply cannot endure the combination of piano with violin or cello. To my mind the timbre of these instruments will not blend … it is torture for me to have to listen to a string trio or a sonata of any kind for piano and strings. To my mind, the piano can be effective in only three situations: alone, in context with the orchestra, or as accompaniment, i.e., the background of a picture’
Eventually however, Tchaikovsky completed for the trio in early 1882, stating in a letter to von Meck, ’The Trio is finished … now I can say with some conviction that my work is not all bad’. The work went through heavy revisions throughout the year, enjoying its premiere in Washington D.C. in October by pianist Sergei Taneyev, violinist Jan Hřímalý and cellist Wilhelm Fitzenhagen - the latter of which was (in)famous for having thoroughly revised Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations.