Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sweet Sounds with the Dolce Suono Trio

If you're like me, you might have taken a look at the calendar and realized, "OMG, Thanksgiving is next week!" and soon you might start freaking out about Christmas being just around the bend (though in some stores, its presence has been around for weeks).

For me, blame it on having spent most of October sick with the flu and then spending November with NaNoWriMo ("National Novel Writing Month") when the goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel's first draft in thirty days.

That's when it dawned on me the next performance with Market Square Concerts is THIS WEEKEND!

Sunday afternoon in fact, November 21st at 4pm at HACC's Rose Lehrman Arts Center. At least the forecast looks like it should be a seasonal fall day. Sorry about losing that Daylight Savings Thing, though...

The ensemble is a trio called "Dolce Suono" which means "Sweet Sound" in Italian, a pleasant name for a pleasant combination of instruments – flute, cello and piano. The Philadelphia Inquirer called them "a stunning ensemble."

We're trying something a little different with some of the concerts this season: pre-concert talks. Mimi Stillman, the flutist and founder of the ensemble, will be giving this one, beginning at 3:00 and it will be held in the "Black Box," the studio theater that's down at the end of the hall on your left as you walk in the front entrance to the Rose Lehrman auditorium.

Tickets are $30, $25 for seniors - College/university age students can purchase $5 tickets and school-aged children get in FREE. Regular concert tickets are also available at 214-ARTS.

About the Program
There's not a lot of music written for this combination which makes programming a challenge. Unlike string quartets or more standard piano trios, there are no great masterpieces by Beethoven or Mozart written for it, but there is a wealth of lesser-known works that prove to be... well, "sweet," like the "Three Watercolors" which Philippe Gaubert composed in 1915 that's on the program (one of them is, appropriately, "Autumn Evening").

The program ranges from Haydn, writing in 1790, to a work composed last year to celebrate Haydn's life during the Haydn Year (officially, the Bicentennial Anniversary of his Death), called "Laus D" and composed by the ensemble's pianist, Charles Abramovic. Incidentally, the title is a play on "Laus Deo (Praise God)" which Haydn traditionally inscribed at the end of his compositions. The music pays tribute to specific works by Haydn as well as his musical spirit.

Carl Maria von Weber may be best known for his opera, Der Freisch├╝tz (without which it would be difficult to imagine a Romantic giant like Wagner), but he wrote at least a few works for the more intimate world of chamber music. His last completed chamber work was the G Minor Flute Trio, written two years before Freisch├╝tz around the same time Beethoven was getting ready to embark on what would become his "Late Period."

Like many ensembles who find themselves limited by a repertoire not many composers wrote for, the Dolce Suono Trio has made an effort to add to their repertoire by commissioning 21 new works in the past six years. Their most recent world premiere was Richard Danielpour's Remembering Neda.

The composer – who had a work commissioned by Concertante that was premiered in Harrisburg this past May – sat down for a conversation with flutist Mimi Stillman to talk about the piece prior to its world premiere in Philadelphia last month:

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In the program notes, he wrote, "I have kept much of my personal history at a distance from my work as a composer - until now. 'Remembering Neda' is a cry for understanding in this most troubled place in the world. It is a lamentation for the losses incurred during this dark time in Iran. And it is a prayer of hope that this most unfortunate of situations will one day change."

The New York Times wrote this about the composer: "Mr. Danielpour's soothing eclecticism is like an attentive host seeing to his guests' every need." The San Jose Mercury calls him "a brilliant composer who is unafraid to let his emotions show."

Here's the Dolce Suono Trio performing the first movement of the Flute Trio by Ned Rorem (it's not on the Market Square Concerts program, just an example of their playing):
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I hope you'll be able to join us at the Rose Lehrman Arts Center on the campus of the Harrisburg Area Community College, to hear the Dolce Suono Trio this Sunday afternoon at 4:00 -- and please come an hour earlier for the pre-concert talk!

- Dick Strawser