- Trio in G major for Piano, Violin, and Cello, K. 564 (1788)
Tema con variazioni: Andante
Orion Weiss, piano • Nicolas Dautricourt, violin • Mihai Marica, cello
- Four Nocturnes (Night Music II) for Violin and Piano (1964)
Notturno I: Serenamente
Notturno II: Scorrevole, vivace possibile
Notturno III: Contemplativo
Notturno IV: Con un sentimento di nostalgia
Kristin Lee, violin • Gloria Chien, piano
- Musique de tables for Percussion Trio (1987)
Christopher Froh, percussion • Ayano Kataoka, percussion • Ian David Rosenbaum, percussion
-INTERMISSION (Discussion with artists)-
- Gaspard de la nuit for Piano (1908)
Juho Pohjonen, piano
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Salzburg, 1756 – Vienna, 1791)
The last of Mozart’s seven piano trios was composed during a productive time in his life. He oversaw the Viennese premiere of Don Giovanni in the spring of 1788, composed his last three symphonies in the summer, and in the fall focused on chamber music, writing the Divertimento for String Trio, K. 563 and this piece. Financially, though, he couldn’t catch a break. Don Giovanni closed soon after it opened. There’s no record of the symphonies being performed and they weren’t published until after Mozart’s death. Thus Mozart and his family were forced to move to a much cheaper apartment far from the center of Vienna. Mozart entered this trio into his catalogue on October 27, 1788, and—unusually for him—it was published in London the following year.
Despite the fact that Mozart composed this trio late in life, it doesn’t have the complexity or the self-examining qualities of many of his later works. It is all light and grace and style. Though the middle movement is slower and the outer movements are faster, there aren’t great contrasts between them. The trio moves at its own pace, never hurried, through the sonata form first movement, theme and variations second movement, and rondo finale. But the interest in the piece is in the small moments that Mozart somehow makes his own: one instrument echoing another, an unexpected but inevitable chromatic note, a simple turn figure. This last piano trio takes the simple to the sublime.
George Crumb (b. Charleston, WV, 1929)
George Crumb writes, “Four Nocturnes is a further essay in the quiet nocturnal mood of my Night Music I for soprano, keyboard, and percussion (composed in 1963); hence the subtitle Night Music II. The four pieces constituting the work are prefaced with the following indications:
- Notturno I: Serenamente
- Notturno II: Scorrevole; vivace possibile
- Notturno III: Contemplativo
- Notturno IV: Con un sentimento di nostalgia
The music is of the utmost delicacy and the prevailing sense of ‘suspension in time’ is only briefly interrupted by the animated and rhythmically more forceful second piece. The sustained lyric idea presented at the beginning of the work, the nervous tremolo effects, and the stylized bird songs are all recurrent elements.
In composing the Four Nocturnes I had attempted a modification of the traditional treatment of the violin-piano combination by exploiting various timbral resources of the instruments. Thus a certain integration in sound is achieved by requiring both instruments to produce harmonics, pizzicato effects, rapping sounds (on the wood of the violin; on the metal beams of the piano). The gentle rustling sounds which conclude the work are produced by the application of a percussionist's wire brush to the strings of the piano.”
Thierry De Mey (b. Brussels, 1956)
De Mey wrote that Musique de tables was “composed for three percussionists each of whom uses a table as his or her musical instrument. The diversity of tones is produced by striking the tables in different ways and trying to suggest ‘castanets,’ ‘a stone,’ ‘windshield wipers,’ and ‘a fan.’ The position of fingers and hands and the rhythmic figures are coded in original symbols in the score. The idea of Musique de tables is to trace the link between the music and the gesture that produces the sound, and to pinpoint the demarcation between dance and music: the visual and choreographic aspects are on the same plane of importance as the tones and the musicality of the performances. Musique de tables is a small ‘ballet of hands.’ It is built as a Baroque suite: opening rondo, fugato, gallop, recapitulation, and coda.”
Ravel was inspired by Aloysius Bertrand’s 1842 book of the same name, a collection of “fantasies” that were given to the author by the devil in disguise.
Maurice Ravel (Ciboure, 1875 – Paris, 1937)
This work is known for its supernatural inspiration, imaginative musical tableaux, and sheer technical difficulty. Ravel was inspired by Aloysius Bertrand’s 1842 book of the same name, a collection of “fantasies” that were given to the author by the devil in disguise. Ravel took these fantasies and created one of the most difficult works in the piano repertoire, a work to rival Balakirev’s famously demanding Islamey, and with a last movement that Ravel called an orchestral transcription for the piano. Pianist Ricardo Viñes premiered the piece in Paris on January 9, 1909.
The three devilish movements are each based on one of Bertrand’s tales. Ondine is a beautiful water nymph who seduces humans—“I thought I heard/A faint harmony that enchants my sleep./And close to me radiates an identical murmur/Of songs interrupted by a sad and tender voice.” After the ever-flowing water of the previous movement, Le gibet is a static description of a corpse hanging in the sun, a bell tolling in the distance—“What do I see stirring around that gibbet?” And the last movement, the most difficult, Scarbo, is the tale of a devious goblin who appears and disappears at will—“He looked under the bed, in the chimney,/in the cupboard; – nobody. He could not/understand how he got in, or how he escaped.”
Notes by Laura Keller, CMS Editorial Manager
© Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center