The three works here included are arrangements of two trios by Beethoven and of his Horn Sonata. These were made by the Bohemian virtuoso oboist Carl Khym, whose name sometimes appears as Chym. He was born about 1770 and was thus a more or less exact contemporary of Beethoven and seems to have been in the service of the Emperor. Little is known of his life, but he left a number of chamber music compositions and competent and effective arrangements of works by other composers, with the string quintet version of Beethoven’s Clarinet Trio, Op. 11, appearing in Vienna and Pest in 1810/1811, and of the Horn Sonata, published in Bonn by Simrock in 1817. The arrangement of the Piano Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, seems to date from 1815. Nothing is known of Khym after 1819.
In 1795 Beethoven published a set of three Piano Trios, dedicated to Prince Carl Lichnowsky, in whose house they were first performed, in the presence of Haydn, who had reservations about the possible reception of the third, an implied criticism to which the composer took exception. The second of the group, the Piano Trio in G major, Op. 1, No. 2, makes a convincing string quintet. The first movement starts with a slow introduction, with the more decorative melodic elements now allotted to the violin, which opens the Allegro vivace with a lively first subject leading to a reasonable division of labour between the other instruments of the quintet. The first violin introduces the second subject in the sonata-form movement, with its repeated exposition, development and recapitulation. The characteristically sustained piano melody of the original work in the slow movement is aptly transferred to strings, its opening theme repeated an octave higher, after which the first violin leads on to a secondary theme, both themes soon to return, with a brief excursion into the tonic minor key before the closing section. The Scherzo is introduced by the cello, joined at once by the other instruments, and framing a B minor Trio. The final Presto opens with the rapidly repeated notes of the violin, as in the original, with some modification of the original piano imitation of the theme, in a sonata-form movement, its exposition again repeated, before the central development and recapitulation.
Beethoven’s 1798 Trio in B flat major, Op. 11, popularly known as the Gassenhauer Trio (Popular Song Trio), takes its nickname from the use Beethoven made, in the last movement, of a theme taken from Joseph Weigl’s comic opera L’amor marinaro
(Love among the Sailors), a terzetto for three basses, Pria ch’io l’impegno. Although often performed in a contemporary arrangement for violin, cello and piano, the original work was scored for a clarinet rather than a violin and owed its instrumentation to the composer’s association with the clarinettist Josef Bähr, who suggested the theme for the last movement variations. Bähr collaborated with Beethoven in performances of his Quintet, Op. 16, and took part in the first performances of the Septet, Op. 20 and the Sextet, Op. 71. He was employed in the musical establishment of Count Johann Joseph Liechtenstein. The first performance of the Trio, according to Ferdinand Ries, took place in the house of Count Fries in the presence of the rival virtuoso pianist Daniel Steibelt. Since the piano part gave relatively little scope for display, Steibelt managed to outshine Beethoven in performing his own quintet. A week later Steibelt provoked Beethoven by playing a brilliant set of variations on the Weigl melody of Beethoven’s last movement, after which the latter took his revenge by a virtuoso improvisation on a motif from Steibelt’s quintet, seizing a cello part, which he placed upside down on the music stand. The sonata-form first movement of the Trio has great charm and assured craftsmanship in its subtle shifts of key. The following Adagio cantabile bears a distinct melodic resemblance to the Minuet of the Piano Sonata, Op. 49, No. 2. According to Czerny, Beethoven contemplated replacing the last movement and issuing the variations as a separate work. Although generally light-hearted, the nine variations include a melancholy excursion into the minor in the fourth variation and again in the dramatic seventh version of the theme, with contrapuntal elements in the ninth, before the syncopations of the final section.