ClefLogo  Concert 7 - Programme Notes

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Concert No 7

8pm Saturday 23rd February 2019
at Holmes Chapel Leisure Centre

Trio Isimsiz (Piano Trio)

Pablo Hernán Benedí (Violin), Michael Petrov (Cello)
and Erdem Misirlioglu (Piano) 

YCAT (Young Classical Artists Trust) Artists 

  “ a piano trio that already has that vital
combination of unanimity of ensemble and
musicianship, plus plenty of individual character
and vitality."
- Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3

Trio Isimsiz Photo by Kaupo Kikkas    

The programme notes for this concert are:

Divertimento in B flat major K.254
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1756 -1791
I: Allegro assai      II: Adagio      III: Rondo. Tempo di menuetto

The earliest of Mozart’s trios are essentially keyboard sonatas with the optional accompaniment of strings. Mozart was just eight when his first set, (K.10 to K.15) was published in London in 1764 as Six Sonatas for Harpsichord, with the accompaniment of Violin or Flute and Cello ad libitum. They were written in the gallant tradition of having little to talk about but, above all, doing it with grace, charm, and elegance.

12 years later, living and working in Salzburg, Mozart’s idea of the trio was evolving with the work now catalogued as Köchel 254. He titled it Divertimento à 3, indicating a chamber work rather than piano sonata with optional string accompaniment. The divertimento was a genre customarily written for family celebrations such as name days. In K.254, the keyboard is still central to the texture, the first amongst equals in fact, with the violin line written above and the cello line below the piano staves in the autograph score.

There are some modest exchanges between piano and violin in the high-spirited opening Allegro assai, but noticeably more in the sustained lyrical writing of the central slow movement. The cello shadows the piano bass part throughout. The finale is in the young Mozart’s favoured form of a rondo, here in the tempo of a minuet, with a graceful recurring main theme, which falls between contrasting episodes.

First performance at HCMS concerts.


Piano Trio in A minor
by Maurice Ravel 1875 – 1937
I: Modéré      II: Pantoum, assez vif      III: Passacaille      IV: Finale Animé

Ravel’s piano trio took five months to complete although he had contemplated a work of this nature for several years. It was written in 1915 during the outbreak of the Great War, whose grim shadow is discernible in the first and third movements. The first movement is in quasi-sonata form. The opening theme, with its modal, parallel-chord harmonies, may have been inspired by Basque café-music which Ravel heard. Its swell-effects are reminiscent of an accordion, and the asymmetric, 3-2-3 division of an eight-quaver metre above pedal points on E in the bass-line give it a distinctly dance like momentum. Highly organised tempo-changes add a sense of drama to counter-balance the touching, fragile lyricism of the second theme. The final bars fade distantly, with melodic fragments recollected and the rhythmic ostinato-figure rumbling in the base line.

The second movement is a Scherzo. Its title, Pantoum, refers to a Malayan verse-form used by Baudelaire in Les Fleurs du Mal, a richly textured kaleidoscope of pizzicati, syncopated accents and cross-rhythms dazzles the senses, with a nice jazzy touch being added by the superimposition of a broadly-moving counter-theme. In the sepulchral Passacaille the piano enters in the lowest bass-register, prophetic of the Concerto for the Left Hand. The eight-bar theme appears eight times in different instrumental combinations to form an arch, with a central climax built up in a symphonic crescendo of rising sequences that move through a succession of startling modulations. The music then returns to timbres veiled and mysterious.

The Finale follows immediately, with exquisitely ‘pointillistic’ (composed of many discrete details or parts) textures, and a choreographic impetus felt in the use of asymmetric 5/4 and 7/4 rhythms. Somewhat Javanese in its use of pentatonic intervals, this movement is in sonata-form, the development starting on a low pianissimo statement of the theme and rising dynamically to a magnificent climax. The final page is a brilliant tour-de-force of vibrant fanfares, sustained trills on the strings and joyous, blues-like triplets on the piano.

Previous performances at HCMS concerts on 27th January 1990 by the Debussy Piano Trio, 21st February 1998 by the Sheridan Piano Trio, 22nd January 2005 by the Kandinsky Piano Trio and 11th December 2010 by the Gould Piano Trio.


Piano Trio No.2 in F major Op.80
by Robert Schumann 1810 – 1856
I: Sehr lebhaft (very lively)
II: Mit innigem Ausdruck (with marked expression)
III: In mässiger Bewegung (with moderate movement) leading to:
IV: Finale nicht zu rasch (not too fast)

Robert Schumann was a German composer, pianist, conductor and critic who was born in Zwickau in 1810 and died in Endenich in 1856. By the age of seven he had begun composing and when eleven years old he had completed several choral and orchestral works. He studied law at Leipzig and Heidelberg Universities but his main interests were in music. He had piano lessons from a Friederich Wieck and fell in love with his daughter, Clara who later became his wife after years of paternal opposition. In 1832 he permanently damaged his hand by using a device he had invented to keep his fourth finger immobile while practising. He suffered from periodic bouts of depression and tried to commit suicide by throwing himself into the Rhine. He spent the last two years of his life in an asylum.

Schumann composed three piano trios. The second of these in F major was completed in 1847 and published in 1849. It is of a quite different character to the first piano trio and Schumann stated that it had a quicker and more ingratiating appeal. The first movement begins with a characteristically Schumannesque rhythm for the two strings, at first in octaves and soon with an interchange between the strings and the piano. The slow movement is perhaps the most successful section of the work, and the composer does not lose himself in confused involutions as he did sometimes in other compositions written at this time in his life. A sharply dotted triple rhythm marks the third movement with the main theme passing between the three instruments. There is a brisk finale in 4/4 time which brings the work to a magnificent conclusion.

Previous performance at HCMS concerts on 8th February 1992 by the English Piano Trio and by the Kungsbacka Piano Trio on 26th September 2009.

© Programme notes by Dr Martin Hudson.



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