This Elegiac Trio is conceived in only one movement, in contrast to most piano trios, which have three or four. This movement is in the classical form of a sonata, but the exposition is built on twelve episodes that are symmetrically represented in the recapitulation. The elegiac theme is presented in the first part Lento lugubre by the piano. In the following parts, the elegy is presented by the cello and violin, while the spirit is constantly evolving (più vivo - con anima - appassionato - tempo rubato - risoluto). The theme is ultimately recast as a funeral march.
Despite his youth, Rachmaninoff shows in the virtuose piano part his ability to cover a wide spectrum of sound colors.
The two Trios Elegiaques are often named together with the trio of Tchaikovsky. This trio has a distinctive connection to Tchaikovsky's trio, both in the unusual, expanded first movement, and in the funeral march as a conclusion.