Monadnock Music


Thursday, July 13, 7:00 pm

Milford Town Hall ~ 1 Union Square, Milford, NH 03055
Concert will end at 8:20 pm, reception to follow.

Piano Trio Performers:

Omar Chen Guey, violin

Rafael Popper-Keizer, cello

Vivian Choi, piano

Musical Program:

Paul Moravec: B.A.S.S. variations

Melinda Wagner Romanze with Faux Variations

Joaquin Turina: Trio #1 in D major, op. 35

Lento - Fugue - Allegro moderato

Theme et Variations

Sonate: Allegro


Anton Arensky: Trio in f minor, op. 73

Allegro moderato

Romance: Andante

Scherzo: Presto

Tema con variazioni: Allegro non troppo

Program Notes

New-York-born American composer and professor Paul Moravec (b. 1957) studied at Harvard University, Colombia University, and the American Academy in Rome. He began his career as a professor at Dartmouth College before returning to New York as a professor in the music department at Adelphi University. Among his accolades, Moravec received the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2004 for Tempest Fantasy (2003) for piano trio and solo clarinet. Moravec has previously worked with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project producing the Northern Lights Electric album in 2012. While best known for his orchestral, chamber, and choral works, Moravec has also written lyric, film, and electro-acoustic compositions.

The title B.A.S.S. Variations (1999) is derived from the theme in German music terminology (B-flat, A, E-flat, E-flat). The trio begins with an air of mystery wavering beneath a winding violin melody. The piano maintains a tentative, light, and almost ethereal background as the strings inch their way through melodic phrases and equally eerie statements. With a sudden drive forward, the trio speeds up to match a newly articulated section. Throughout the work, the initial haunting theme is punctuated by bright, lively, and sometimes even frenzied moments. The trio returns to the soft, unearthly melody as they wind to a hushed close.

American composer and teacher Melinda Wagner (b. 1957) earned graduate degrees in composition from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago. She has taught and guest lectured at the University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University, Yale University, Juilliard, and Mannes School of Music. Wagner has an impressive history commissions including a trombone concerto for the New York Philharmonic and orchestral and concerto works for the Chicago Symphony. In 1999 Wagner was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music for her Concerto for Flute, String, and Percussion(1998) which was commissioned by the New-York-based Westchester Philharmonic. Wagner has also been recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award from The University of Pennsylvania and a Fellowship from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Romanze with Faux Variations (2003) was commissioned by the Network for New Music Ensemble. As the title suggests, Romanze with Faux Variations does not follow the traditional theme and variations form, but the “faux variations” relate to the Romanze in a twisting and intertwined story. The piano provides a quiet backdrop to the flowing, bittersweet melody in the strings.

Spanish composer Joaquín Turina (1882-1949) was born in Seville and began playing the accordion without instruction at age four. Turina studied piano, music theory, and composition throughout his school days, and his first performances were with his self-established piano quintet La Orquestina. After a number of performances and the debut of his early compositions, Turina yearned to produce a large-scale work. This prompted Turina’s first opera, La Sulamita (1900), which he completed when he was still a teenager; it premiered in the Royal Theater in Madrid. After the death of his parents in the early 1900’s, Turina moved to Paris to continue his work and studies in composition and piano performance, but returned to Madrid at the start of World War I. For the latter half of his life, Turina dedicated himself to performance, composition, and teaching.

Trio No. 1 in D major, Op. 35 (1926), begins with a peaceful theme introduced by the piano in Lento - Fugue - Allegro moderato. The strings join and accompany the gentle melody before the trio enters the fugue, still centered around the initial tenderness. The cello establishes the theme in Theme et Variations over soft piano chords. The five variations include identifiably Spanish rhythms and elements of impressionism Turina perhaps inherited from the influence of composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. Sonate: Allegro is energetically introduced by a flourish in the strings, before the use of counterpoint develops the original theme of the work. Briefly revisiting the fugue and ideas from the opening movement, the trio continues with bright energy before powerful piano chords close the work.
Russian composer Anton Arensky (1861-1906) is especially noted for his chamber music. Most recognized for his lyrical and lamenting sound, Arensky’s best work was in his shorter solo or chamber compositions. Arensky found a niche in scholarship and education, excelling in his studies at the Moscow Conservatory and hired there as a professor shortly after graduating. Arensky had grown accustomed to conducting, and in the mid-1890’s began his direction of the imperial chapel in St. Petersburg. This led Arensky to pursue further opportunities in accompaniment and conducting.

Trio in f minor, Op. 73 (1903), was composed late in Arensky’s life, while his health was failing. It marks a breakthrough in technical composition for Arensky. A five-note theme drives Allegro moderato, and Arensky makes liberal use of variations within the shell of a sonata form. Romance: Andante is a delicate and slow movement, initiated by a duet between the strings and followed by the main theme in piano. Scherzo: Presto conveys a playful waltz, and is considered to resemble Arensky’s previous Trio in d minor, but in a more mature and refined compositional style. The trio is completed with a signature Arensky theme and variations form in Tema con variazioni: Allegro non troppo. Elements of Russian dance and waltzes appear in the variations, before the final variation references the original form and winds to a close.

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