In 1871 the Société Nationale de Musique (SNM) was founded in Paris by Vincent d’Indy, Camille Saint-Saëns, Ernest Chausson and others, to provide French composers with a stage. Auditions and concerts were set up in several venues and salons in the city. A few years later Chausson’s new residence at Rue de Courcelles 22 became one of the headquarters of the SNM:
Le Salon de Chausson.
The entire Parisian elite frequented the concerts here (Debussy, Duparc, d’Indy, Cortot, Albéniz, Fauré, Ysaÿe, Mallarmé, Gide, Monet, Rodin et al.). A touching photograph was taken in 1893 showing Debussy playing his Clair de Lune with Chausson looking on.
At that time, French music was largely dominated by opera. Thanks to the stage provided by the SNM, French composers started to write chamber music again. Many gems were created in this period; the two piano trios presented here are perfect examples.
In 1880, Cécile Chaminade auditioned succesfully for the Société playing – amongst other repertoire – her first Piano Trio opus 11. On April 8th 1882, the official premiere of Chausson’s Piano Trio opus 3 took place with the famous Jules Delsart (still known today for his cello transcription of César Francks Sonata for Piano and Violin) playing the cello part. On February 4th 1886, Chaminade’s second Piano Trio opus 34 was premiered, again with Delsart playing the cello. He was also the dedicatee of the piece. Without a doubt both works will have been played at Le Salon de Chausson…
In spite of the remarkable similarities between these piano trios the pieces could not be more different in style.