Jean Sibelius’ piano trios were important to him personally. He wrote them in his youth, during the summers he spent vacationing with his brothers and sisters on various islands in Houtskär, the Finnish archipelago off the southwest coast of Finland. Sibelius loved these islands, and the three trios we include in this recording were eventually named after two of his favorite islands, as well as the coastal town of Lovisa, where his Aunt Evelina had a house.1 Given their natural talents, the young Sibelius siblings formed a trio. Janne2 played the violin, his sister Linda played the piano, and his brother Christian played the cello. Given the family musicians at hand, it was natural for Sibelius to write piano trios for their mutual enjoyment.
The young Sibelius wrote his Havträsk Trio in A Minor (JS 207) during the summer of 1886, during his first vacation after beginning his studies in music composition. It feels like we hear everything Sibelius learned in class, experimenting as he was, but now not under his teacher’s watchful eye! Movement one begins bombastically, balanced by the three lighter movements which follow. The Andantino second movement gives voice to some of Sibelius’ most beautiful melodies, followed by the whimsical and virtuosic Scherzo third movement which reminds me a little of Mendelssohn. Sibelius finished the piece with a simple melody which culminates into a surprisingly passionate dance.