Francesco Molino: Three Trios op. 4. Introduction by Brian Jeffery

What a delightful set of trios this is. Everything serene, each of the three instruments given its fair share. The first trio is an extended work, and the second and third are shorter (Molino called the second and third trios notturni, that is to say like 18th century Italian serenades).  They date from probably 1809 or shortly before.  I first published them with Tecla in 1986, in a facsimile of the original edition. However, that edition was in parts only (no score), and now this present new Tecla edition of Molino’s Three Trios op. 4 (2004) gives the music re-engraved, with score and parts.

The style of the trios is always limpid, very clear and aiming at beauty. There are many details which make them charming pieces of music. You can hear the first trio, op. 4 no. 1, in  a live performance given in Portugal by Olavo Tengner Barros (flute), Jean-Loup Lecomte (viola), and Mário Carreira (guitar).

In part of the rondo of trio no. 2 the viola plays pizzicato against the other two instruments, a very nice touch, a kind of forerunner of the delightful passage in Molino’s Grand Trio op. 30 in which there is a short duet between the viola pizzicato and the guitar, a charming effect.

The upper part is clearly marked for flute on the title-page and on the part in both original editions. In this it differs from Molino’s Grand Trio op. 30 and the Second Grand Trio op. 45, in both of which the upper part is marked as for flute or violin. Molino himself was a professional violinist and guitarist, but no doubt knew perfectly well the idiom of the flute. Also, both of the later trios were published when Molino was living in the more bourgeois and commercial world of Paris, and perhaps it was useful there to make the upper part accessible to players of both instruments.

Molino described the second and third trio as “dans le genre de notturni”, or in op. 19, “faciles et dans le genre de nocturnes”. What does this mean? In Italy in the eighteenth century, a notturno was a work like a serenade, in several movements (not the later piano nocturne for which John Field became famous). When we look at the second and third trio, we find that their form is the same as the first trio, that is to say three movements, but that the second and third trios are shorter and possibly slightly easier, although none of the three are difficult.

It is interesting to see the social and cultural background from which these trios come. They are dedicated to Count Durazzo (Monsieur le Comte de Durazzo) whom the title-page of the first edition describes as Chambellan de S.M. l’Empereur des François, Roi d’Italie &c., that is to say of Napoleon. This shows that the work was definitely published before Napoleon fell from power in 1815 (and probably before the Battle of Leipzig in 1813). As a matter of fact, this dedication can probably help to date these trios even earlier, because Count Durazzo is no doubt Girolamo-Luigi, Count Durazzo (1739-1809), the last Doge of Genoa, who after Genoa was annexed by Napoleon’s armies became a senator of France and is buried (or more probably only has a memorial) in the Panthéon in Paris. It means that these trios must date from 1809, the year of his death, or before. (This Count Girolamo-Luigi Durazzo was related, though not very closely, to someone else who is famous in musical history, Count Giacomo Durazzo (1717-94), the Genoese diplomat who went to Vienna in 1749, married a Viennese lady, and became director of the imperial theatres in Vienna where he promoted especially Gluck, and later talent-spotted Anna Storace in Venice.)

We can probably date the trios more closely still. It was in 1805 that Napoleon’s armies annexed Genoa and therefore that Durazzo entered the service of Napoleon. So the dedication of the trios to Durazzo can only have been made between 1805 and 1809 (the year of his death), and their composition falls also most probably within those years.

So these trios come out of the aristocratic world of Genoa and Turin, of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, of the period around 1805 or a bit later. No doubt this has something to do with their elegance. They are dedicated to the (ex-)Doge himself, the very top figure of the Genoese aristocracy, 66 years old at the time of the Napoleonic invasion of his country. We hear something of his reaction to this calamitous event in Memoirs of the Court of St. Cloud, Being Secret Letters from a Gentleman at Paris to a Nobleman in London, Letter XXXV, Paris, August, 1805:

“A general officer present when the Doge of Genoa, at the head of the Ligurian deputation, offered Bonaparte their homage at Milan, and exchanged liberty for bondage, assured me that this ci-devant chief magistrate spoke with a faltering voice and with tears in his eyes, and that indignation was read on the countenance of every member of the deputation thus forced to prostitute their rights as citizens, and to vilify their sentiments as patriots.”

More details about Count Durazzo can be found in the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, 1993.

The first edition of the trios op. 4 was published in Leipzig by Breitkopf & Härtel in about 1812/13, apparently through certain German connections which Molino had, perhaps through the Duchesse de Dalberg to whom he dedicated his Nouvelle méthode pour Guitare. This present edition is based on Breitkopf & Härtel’s.  Later, in Paris in about 1822, Molino published another edition of the same work, this time under his own name in association with the publisher Gambaro, and he then gave the work the new opus number 19.  Despite the change of opus number, it is nevertheless the same music. Only a few changes have been introduced:
1) Op. 4 Trios 1, 2, and 3 are op. 19 Trios 3, 1, and 2.
2) The flute part of op. 4 trio 2 is more ornamented in op. 19.
3) The Valz of op. 4 trio 3 has some extra material added in op. 19.
4) Some details of dynamics, phrasing, etc., are different in op. 19.
But I have chosen for this present edition to edit op. 4 only, and not to take into account the later edition known as op. 19, in favour of getting as close as possible to the initial inspiration of these trios.

The date of about 1812/13 for the Breitkopf & Härtel edition can be established from its plate number, 1793 (O.E. Deutsch, Musikverlagsnummern, Berlin, 1961, p. 9). It was presumably the first edition; certainly no earlier edition is now known. I published it in facsimile with Tecla in 1986, from a copy in the Biblioteca Musicale O.P. Greggiati, Ostiglia, Italy, by their kind permission.

The Paris edition is called “9me. oeuvre de la souscription”, and it should eventually be possible to date it by reference to others in the subscription series; at present one may guess at a date of about 1822. Copies of the Paris edition are in Washington, Library of Congress and Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale.

I wish to express my thanks to Mário Carreira and his colleagues who kindly proofread the Molino trios and suggested corrections. Of course any errors which remain are my reponsibility.

Brian Jeffery


I have added some precautionary accidentals.

Trio no. 1

First movement (allegro moderato)

In the Breitkopf & Härtel edition, the flute and guitar parts are marked allegro moderato, but the viola allegro maestoso. In the Paris edition as op. 19, curiously, the guitar part has allegro moderato but the flute and viola parts have allegro maestoso. In this edition I have put allegro moderato. At bar 75 the Breitkopf & Härtel edition has a repeat mark after the double bar in the viola and guitar parts but not in the flute (the same at the corresponding place in the Paris edition as op. 19). The structure of the piece is such that it seems best without a repeat.


The first section (bars 1-8) is not marked to be repeated in either the Breitkopf & Härtel edition or the Paris edition as op. 19. However, it may be that players will wish to repeat it.


In the Breitkopf & Härtel edition, the flute is marked Allegretto scherzoso and the viola and guitar parts Allegretto. Allegretto scherzoso seems to have more character and so I have put it here. In the Paris edition as op. 19, all the parts are marked Allegretto

Bar 93 Mário Carreira, who has recorded this work, adds a short cadenza here on the guitar.

Bars 104 and 108: the flute has c sharp and the other two instruments have c natural. They are all clearly marked in both editions and are no doubt intended.

Trio no. 2

In the Rondo bars 116-140 the repeats were inconsistent in the original and have here been standardized. (The originals can be seen in the Tecla facsimile edition).

Trio no. 3

Rondo, last bar: in the original, the viola ties the C but not the G, and the guitar has a mark which may or may not indicate that the last C is tied.

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