Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the distinguished and internationally-acclaimed Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio as they perform a vibrant program including a work written for them by Pulitzer Prize Winning composer, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich – Pas de Trois (World Premiere)
Pas de Trois was commissioned for the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio in celebration of their 40th anniversary. I had the honor and pleasure of writing a Piano Trio to mark their 10th anniversary, and that was the beginning of a long and inspiring relationship. Since that time I’ve written a Double Concerto for Violin and Cello; a Triple Concerto for the Trio; a Septet for Piano Trio and String Quartet; and a Quintet for Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass and Piano all for my “musical family:” Joseph Kalichstein, Jaime Laredo, and Sharon Robinson.
My new piece, Pas de Trois, was designed to open a concert repeating the lengthy and intense program that brought the Trio together at the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter in 1977.
I decided to model this shorter work on the ballet tradition of Pas de Trois. In the 1st movement (Entrée), the trio bounds onto the stage and engages in various interactions. The 2nd movement (Variata e Coda) gives each of the three a solo turn, followed by an ensemble conclusion.
Pas de Trois was commissioned by a consortium of presenters through the International Arts Foundation: Ann and Harry Santen for Linton Chamber Music, Cincinnati, OH; the Abe Fortas Memorial Fund of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC; Chamber Music Monterey Bay, Carmel, CA; Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; and La Jolla Music Society, La Jolla, CA.
Pas de Trois was written with great admiration and affection for the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, to whom it is dedicated.
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich
Shostakovich – Trio for Piano, Violin & Cello No. 2 in E minor
The Trio for Piano, Violin & Cello No. 2 is at times bitterly tragic and achingly beautiful. This should come as no surprise, given when it was composed – during the midst of World War II, as Shostakovich was dealing with both national and personal tragedies.
Completed in the spring of 1944, the trio came just months after the end of the Siege of Leningrad, in which over a million people died. Shortly after this monumental tragedy, Shostakovich also lost his close friend Ivan Sollertinsky, to whom the trio is dedicated. Yet despite this bleak origin, the trio is not an entirely somber work and offers a characteristic range of emotions from folksiness to satire, diabolical urgency to, yes, anger and sadness.
The opening andante begins with an incredibly difficult cello passage as the instrument outlines a fugue fragment entirely in eerie harmonics. An introductory canon then gives way to a demanding sonata form that requires each performer to carry their own thematic and virtuosic weight in equal measure. The second movement presents a scherzo that bypasses any traditional jollity in favor of biting irony driven by harsh discords and obsessive repetition. The third, Largo, movement presents the work’s bleakest tone. Shostakovich composed the movement as a chaconne, allowing the form’s repeated, fixed structure to force thematic material to be drawn out allowing the intensity of the musical expression to compound, rather than dissipate throughout repetitions. The fourth and final movement is both the most extended and most dramatic section of the trio, as themes from the previous three movements are revisited. This familiar thematic material is interspersed with increasingly diabolical folk tunes and Klezmer-influenced melodies until the entire work fades into an almost inaudible E Major chord.
Unquestionably tragic, frantic, and tortured while also undeniably beautiful, the trio presents the compositional voice that defined Shostakovich. In an intimate chamber setting, it presents the audience with an experience that is simultaneously somber and exhilarating.
Schubert – Trio for Piano, Violin & Cello No. 2 in E-flat Major
One of the last compositions completed by Franz Schubert, the Trio for Piano, Violin & Cello No. 2 stands as one of the most grandiose trios in the standard repertoire. Clocking in at nearly 50 minutes, the trio showcases Schubert’s unparalleled abilities to connect an abundance of thematic material across a large work. The opening movement presents as many as six separate themes in the exposition alone, and melodies from the first and second movements resurface throughout the finale.
The first movement presents a moderate sonata full of lyricism and energy. An impressive number of song-like melodies occur throughout the opening movement, showcasing Schubert’s gift for creating memorable themes and generating material that will inform the rest of the trio. The second movement progresses from a somber march paired with a singing cello lament to a bright, moving theme that creates some of the trio’s most memorable moments. The third, Scherzo, movement presents a genial dance that is driven throughout by a canon with the piano and strings imitating each other in an intricate series of shifting and interlacing combinations. The finale not only revisits earlier themes, but again presents three additional melodies in a combination of a rondo and sonata.
Driven by dramatic and rapid shifts in mood and tone, the trio offers up an abundance of thematic material that is impressive even considering the work’s scale. The composition represents the work of a master craftsman at the height of his art, and the intricate balance Schubert strikes throughout creates a rewarding musical experience for even the seasoned listener.