Program Proposals (Selection)
To the Distant Benefactor
Claude Debussy: Trio in G-Major
(1862-1918) Andantino con moto allegro
Scherzo - Intermezzo: Moderato con allegro
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Pjotr Iljitsch Tchaikovsky: Trio Op. 50 in a-minor
(1840-1893) Pezzo elegiaco
Tema con Variationi
If not for a single person, the music world in general and this of the piano trio in particular would have been much poorer.
And what a person! One who would pick the spouses of her children without attending their weddings. One who would terrorise its most loyal servants. Yet one who would invest all its might in making the world a more inspiring place. Baroness Nadezhda von Meck will be remembered as one of the most generous and progressive, yet enigmatic and disputable personalities in the history of the arts.
In 1877 she discovered the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. An appreciation soon turned into an addiction. She decided to bestow a fortune on the composer; such which would guarantee him a complete freedom and independence. The rapport between the two lasted for more than a decade and intensified with each and every of the 691 letters they exchanged. However, she posed one condition: She and Tchaikovsky were never to meet! Aware of her terrible reputation, she was terrified to disappoint the composer whom she idealised and idolised most. Or even worse- to negatively affect his creative powers!
However, Tchaikovsky saw in von Meck nothing other than a true friend. Dedicating her his 4th Symphony, he declared themselves as equals. It is therefore not surprising that it was that he composed his monumental piano trio, probably the largest work of the entire piano trio literature, upon her wish.
Von Meck’s affection for the medium of a piano trio had grown earlier, as she hosted three musicians to entertain her summer evenings during a vacation in Florence. Among the three, an 18 year-old Frenchman, a brilliant pianist who could improvise, arrange and play everything at first sight. His name was Claude Debussy, and his services were hired for three years, until he was bold enough to ask for Von Meck’s daughter’s hand, which the mother vehemently refused! In the course of these three years, Debussy arranged Tchaikovsky’s orchestral works for piano duo and played them with his patroness. He also composed his own piano trio during this time, a youthful work much influenced by Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns and Schumann. Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck: To her the world owes the highlights of a grand master at the peak of his career, as well as the the first commissions of an aspiring artist who would soon gain a name at the great composers' pantheon.
War and Friendship
Dmitri Shostakovich: Trio Nr. 1 Op. 8 (1925)
Mieczysław Weinberg: Trio Op. 24 (1945)
(1919-1996) Präludium and Arie, Larghetto
Toccata, Allegro marcato
Finale, Allegro moderato
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Dmitri Shostakovich: Trio Nr. 2 Op. 67 (1944)
(1906-1975) Andante - Moderato - Poco più mosso
Allegro con brio
A strong friendship brought together two of the most important composers of the 20th century: Dmitri Shostakovich and Mieczysław Weinberg. Both suffered under the atrocities of dictatorship and war; both of them processed these experiences in their music.
Weinberg, the younger of the two, sent Shostakovich his first symphony in 1943 - a work which immediately gained Shostakovich's admiration. Consequently, Shostakovich arranged for Weinberg to reside in Moscow, and he went on to champion the music of the younger composer throughout his life. Weinberg has been quoted saying: "When I met Shostakovich I was reborn. My entire life has changed." The two friends showed each other their new works regularly.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Mieczysław Weinberg's birth, we are dedicating a program to Shostakovich and Weinberg featuring the two composers' piano trios. These trios were created under the immediate impression of the Second World War, just as their friendship had begun to sprout.
Joseph Haydn: Trio in d-minor Hob. XV:23
(1732-1809) Molto Andante
Adagio ma non troppo
Toshio Hosokawa: Trio (2013/2017)
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Robert Schumann: Trio in F-Major Op. 80
(1810-1856) Sehr lebhaft
Mit innigem Ausdruck
In mässiger Bewegung
Nicht zu rasch
Yin and Yang, Thesis and Antithesis, Ego and Alter Ego: conflict and reconciliation have always been prominent pillars in the history of the arts. This program examines some of the most exciting examples of these elements in the piano trio literature. Haydn's d minor trio is among the first instances of the double variation form in which two themes, one in minor and another in major, are contrasted with each other throughout an entire movement.
Schumann's trio op. 80 depicts the polarity between Florestan and Eusebius, extravagance and intimacy, and exhilaration and frustration. Quoting Mendelssohn, a composer whose piano trios Schumann admired, and from his own settings to Joseph von Eichendorff's and Heinrich Heine's songs, Schumann embraces a rich cultural palette and merges it into one magnificent work.
Toshio Hosokawa's trio explores the rituals of the Shamans, the duality of the earthly and spiritual, as well as of femininity and masculinity. No medium is more suitable for this challenge than a piano trio: an ensemble with inherent instrumental contrasts and an odd number of musicians, yet also with the rare ability to harmonise and integrate three entities into one.
Ludwig van Beethoven: Variations over "Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu"
(1770-1827) Op. 121a
Germaine Tailleferre: Trio
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Johannes Brahms: Trio Op. 8 (final version)
Every so often we are overwhelmed by young composers’ exuberant energy, uncompromising temper, and vigorous statements. Every so often we admire the cohesive message, the sophisticated craftsmanship and the complex emotions displayed by mature composers’ oeuvre. Imagine a mixture of both! This would be the rare opportunity to witness a young artists' creation reworked at a far later stage. Beethoven started the composition of his Kakadu Variations before Napoleon was declared emperor and finished it after the Congress of Vienna. Brahms completed his Trio Op. 8 only months after being hailed by Robert Schumann as “the chosen one” [“das ist ein Berufener"], and revised it 36 years later, just before his decision to retire. Germaine Tailleferre worked on her trio over a span of 60 years, deriving as far apart influences stretching from Fauré and Stravinsky to her group of Les Six and American jazz.
This programme celebrates the creative powers of a lifetime.