During the 1870s, on one of Saint-Saëns’ many foreign trips, he became acquainted with Tchaikovsky on a visit to Moscow. They became friends based primarily on the discovery of many composers they equally admired, particularly of the classical masters, and they remained in touch for many years until Tchaikovsky’s death.
The trios being performed in this concert were written ten years apart and one immediately hears the
inspiration behind the first movement of Saint-Saëns’ second trio. The first six notes of the melody are identical to those of the Tchaikovsky. Both of these trios are large scale, serious works and though deeply individual, contain many references to the composers whom they so revered.
Though not an elegiac work as such, you can certainly hear a tragic undercurrent in Saint-Saëns’ work. His unsuccessful attempt at family life led to two infant deaths followed by an estrangement from his wife, though perhaps his maturity at the time of writing this second trio is also a factor in the seriousness of the piece compared to so many of his lighter works. As for Tchaikovsky’s trio, you could hardly find a more potent outpouring of his grief at the death of his great friend Nikolai Rubinstein than in this giant of a piece. We hope you find these pieces complement each other in ways we will all discover during this concert as this will be the first time we have programmed these works together.