We don’t hear so much from CARL MARIA VON WEBER these days. There are performances of Der Freischütz fairly often, there some appearances of his clarinet concertos, and one will hear the Overture from Oberon now and again, but Weber is not a composer whose oeuvre is so much investigated, or who is much fêted by name at festivals or retrospectives. Indirectly, though, we hear a great deal from him. His influence on folkloristic and national- istic music of the romantic period was huge; his inventive orchestration was direct- ly studied by generations of composers to come (Hector Berlioz, e.g.); his piano concertos (and his performing style) were direct precursors to Chopin and Liszt; and, perhaps above all, he steered German opera toward the gesamtkunstwerk* with a force that Wagner never forgot. Upon hearing Freischütz, Beethoven had the fol- lowing to say: “That usually feeble little man—I’d never have thought it of him. Now Weber must write more operas, one after the other, without any preliminary nibbling.”
A brief comparison of Beethoven and Weber can be instructive, as their goals were so complementarily opposed. “The passionate, almost incredible inventive powers inspiring him,” wrote Weber, “are accompanied by such a chaotic arrange- ment of his ideas that only his earlier compositions appeal to me; the later ones seem to me a hopeless chaos….” But it was surely Beethoven who better knew “arrangement of ideas.” Weber wrote for dramatic structure, which earned success for his operas and brought forth little chamber music. Beethoven, on the other hand, wrote abstract tone-based structures, which brought forth fantastic chamber music output, but left precious little music drama. As though working himself back up after a period of extreme personal difficulty and illness – perhaps rebuild- ing his discursive, emotionally-led musical thoughts toward his greatest opera – Weber produced this peculiarly touching trio for flute, piano, and cello in 1819.