Thursday, September 30, 2010

Trio Solisti Opens the New Season

Market Square Concerts opens its new season with the return of one of the great piano trios in the classical music world today. Trio Solisti performs at 8pm, Saturday, October 9th at Harrisburg's Whitaker Center.

The New York Times called them “consistently brilliant" and The Washington Post referred to their “unrelenting passion and zealous abandon in a transcendent performance.”

A composition they'd commissioned from Paul Moravec, his "Tempest Fantasy," received the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2004. They later recorded the work and performed it in Harrisburg – that was one of those blizzard concerts (a "will-it-or-won't-it" weekend) and unfortunately not heard by too many listeners, though everyone in attendance was glad they'd braved the weather.

The good news is – not only is another work by Paul Moravec on this program (they'll be performing his 'Passacaglia'), the weather is likely to be a lot better than that last time...

Perhaps you've heard them at Gretna Music where they've played in past seasons as well, and if you're a fan of Concertante, performing regularly at Harrisburg's Rose Lehrman Arts Center, you already know one of the performers: cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach.

She'll be joined by her colleagues, violinist Maria Bachmann (who appeared a few seasons ago in a recital program, with the world premiere of Philip Glass's new Violin Sonata) and pianist Jon Klibonoff.

The "major work" on the program will be one of Dvořák's piano trios – while the famous "Dumky" Trio may be more frequently performed, the F Minor Trio was a more significant work in Antonin Dvořák's development and is usually considered one of his finest and most heartfelt pieces. (You can hear a recording by the legendary trio with Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky and Leonard Pennario, here.)

Rachmaninoff may be better known for his piano concertos and works for solo piano, so a piano trio by him (even a fairly short one-movement work like his Trio élégiaque No. 1) may seem unusual. Written when he was 19, it's still full of the beautiful melodies and lush harmonies that make all of his music an incredible listening experience. (You can hear the beginning of the trio, performed by the Borodin Trio, here.)

Leonard Bernstein's Piano Trio was also written by a 19-year-old – when Bernstein was a Harvard student studying with Walter Piston. You can hear Central Pennsylvania's own Newstead Trio playing the 2nd movement, here.

Paul Moravec (right) has a long history with Trio Solisti and violinist Maria Bachmann, for whom he's written a number of works. He composed the Passacaglia that's on their Market Square Concerts program in 2006, two years after the Pulitzer-prize-winning "Tempest Fantasy." While I couldn't find an on-line link to the Passacaglia, you can hear Trio Solisti performing his "Tempest Fantasy" here.

A visit to Argentina rounds out the program with "Le grand Tango" by Astor Piazzolla, the "King of the Tango" (considering Johann Strauss was the Waltz King and John Philip Sousa was the March King, why not a Tango King, especially when Piazzolla wrote most of the best ones around?) Most of his music is available in different arrangements – here's one for viola and accordion (and I'm not joking)!

Tickets for Trio Solisti are $30 (seniors $25) with tickets for college and university students $5. School age children are free, thanks to a generous grant from the Derek and Margaret Hathaway Foundation.

The opening concert of Market Square Concert's new season is sponsored by Lois
Lehrman Grass, honoring the memory of Dr. Robert E. Dye.