Sunday 18th Sept 2016 at 3.30pm
St. Iberius Church, Wexford
Carles Puig, violin
Esther García cello
Jorge Mengotti, piano
Haydn (1732-1809): Piano Trio Hob. XV / 25 “Gypsy”
Franz Joseph Haydn was afforded a rare luxury in his lifetime, that of being hired by a rich patron as an in-house composer and spending most of every year writing fresh works for a talented group of musicians to perform in front of a highly congenial audience, namely Prince Nikolaus Esterházy. In 1790, that all changed; Esterházy died, and his successor was not interested in maintaining the court orchestra. Haydn was released to travel wherever he liked, retaining a modest payment from the royal family. Thus, having worked at the Esterházy estate for many decades, honing and perfecting his compositional voice, Haydn was quite ready to meet the rest of the musical world head on. The fifty-eight-year-old composer was immediately approached with an invitation to give a series of concerts in London, and so, in 1791, he packed his bags for the first of two wildly successful trips to England.
These trips bore very ripe fruit, as some of Haydn’s most popular works were composed during these London visits, particularly the so-called “London symphonies.” This was no coincidence, as Haydn was consciously endeavouring to drum up excitement, and all the financial remuneration such excitement would bring with it, with deliberately dramatic, exciting music.
This afternoon’s piano trio is Haydn’s best known in the genre. The string parts, especially in the ’cello, are not as independent of the piano as they later became in trios but the writing is extremely imaginative and attractive. The first movement features alternating major and minor sections, with the final statement of the main theme elaborated splendidly in the piano. The middle movement features absolutely ravishing melodic writing for the violin and the finale is in a style developed from the Gypsy music which Haydn doubtless heard local musicians play at Esterházy. Incorporating well known Gypsy music, especially verbunkos, the dances used in military recruitment, was a first for Haydn in this most exciting finale.
Granados (1867-1916): Piano Trio op. 50 in C Major
Performer, composer and teacher, Enrique Granados stood with de Falla and Albéniz as the most outstanding Spanish musician of his time. Among his dozen or so chamber works the Piano Trio and Piano Quintet, both from 1894, exemplify Granados’s highly expressive, neo-romantic style, his piano writing revealing the hand of a virtuoso. Amiable touches of dance and salon music, hints of Moorish, gypsy and folkloric elements, co-exist in these beautiful, refined pieces.
As a young man Enrique Granados studied piano in Barcelona and Paris. He returned to Barcelona in 1889. His first successes were at the end of the 1890’s, with the zarzuela Maria del Carmen, which earned the attention of King Alfonso XIII.
In 1911 Enrique Granados premiered his suite for piano, Goyescas, which became his most famous work. It is a set of six pieces based on paintings of Goya. Such was the success of this work that he was encouraged to expand it; he wrote an opera based on the subject in 1914, but unfortunately the outbreak of World War I forced the European premiere to be canceled. It was performed for the first time in New York in1916, and was very well received. Shortly afterward he was invited to perform a piano recital for President Woodrow Wilson.
Unfortunately the delay incurred by accepting the recital invitation caused him to miss his sailing back to Spain. Instead, he took a ship to England, where he boarded the passenger ferry Sussex for Dieppe, France. On the way across the English Channel, the Sussex was torpedoed by a German U-boat, as part of the German unrestricted submarine warfare policy during World War I. In a failed attempt to save his wife Amparo, whom he saw flailing in the water some distance away, Granados jumped out of his lifeboat, and drowned. Ironically, he had a morbid fear of water for his entire life, and he was returning from his first-ever series of ocean voyages.
Debussy (1862-1918): Piano Trio in G major
Debussy entered the Paris Conservatoire in the autumn of 1872 at the age of ten. His parents hoped that he would become a piano virtuoso and remove them from the genteel poverty in which they lived. Although Debussy won a second prize for piano-playing in 1877, the first prize eluded him, and two years later, when he failed to win any piano prize, his parents had to admit their dream would never be fulfilled.
In 1880, Debussy’s piano teacher, Antoine Marmontel, took note of his first prize in score-reading and subsequently recommended Debussy to Tchaikovsky’s patroness, Nadedjda von Meck, who was looking for a pianist to accompany her and her children on their travels. Debussy was engaged, and his duties included giving piano lessons to her children, accompanying her twenty-seven year old daughter Julia (a singer), and playing piano duets with Mme. Von Meck. Their journey that summer took them throughout Europe, ending in Florence where the family was joined by the cellist Danilchenko, who had just finished studying at the Moscow Conservatory, and the violinist Pachulsky. This trio of excellent musicians was required to perform every evening; their repertoire included Russian music and the compositions of Beethoven and Schubert.
Perhaps it was as a result of this exposure that, soon after, Debussy composed his Piano Trio in G. What were considered compositional weaknesses at the time later became Debussy’s strengths. For example, Debussy frequently uses pedal notes, bass tones sustained through several changes of harmony in the other musical voices; these tones create dissonance and throw decorative elements into relief. His tendency towards modal melodic patterns would, handled with mastery over a decade later, help lend Pelléas et Mélisande its distinctive atmosphere of far away and long ago
Shostakovich (1906-1975): Piano Trio no 1 op. 8 in C minor (1923)
For years, audiences knew of only one Shostakovich piano trio, the Trio in E Minor of 1944. But Shostakovich had written a Piano Trio in C Minor in 1923, when he was a 17-year-old student at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Though he did not have it published, he did perform the music in public and listed it as his Opus 8. In the sequence of Shostakovich’s work, this trio comes just before the First Symphony of 1925, which catapulted the composer to worldwide fame. Like several others of Shostakovich’s early works, it dropped out of sight and remained unknown, in this case for sixty years.
In 1981, six years after Shostakovich’s death, his pupil Boris Tischenko prepared a performing edition of the trio. This was necessary because some small sections of the manuscript had disappeared. Tischenko had to compose a 22-measure passage for the piano to make up for this, and he edited the work for performance. Soon performed in the West as well as in Russia, the trio was recognized as fully characteristic of Shostakovich’s early style. It has been recorded and represents a valuable addition to the catalogue of the composer’s chamber works.
Only about fourteen minutes long, the Trio in C Minor is in one continuous movement that falls into four subsections. Even these, however, are characterized by so many sudden and mercurial shifts of key, tempo, and mood that the trio has been compared to a rhapsody. But Shostakovich unifies this music around the cello’s three-note figure heard at the very beginning; this will recur in many guises throughout. It is altogether characteristic of Shostakovich–even at age 17–that he has left the home key of C minor behind before he has fully presented the opening statement. A lyrical second idea is also announced by the cello, and the structure of this trio is very loosely based on sonata form as the music moves through a series of sharply-contrasted sections (one of them titled Prestissimo fantastico) to the energetic close.
(Note by Eric Bromberger)
Comprised of Carles Puig, violin, Esther Garcia, cello and Jorge Mengotti, piano, Trio Rodin was founded in 2011 in Utrecht, The Netherlands, with the aim of developing professional careers in chamber music, diving into the rich piano trio repertoire. Hailed as one of the most outstanding young Spanish ensembles of their generation, their principal focus is defined by the presentation of great works of the chamber music repertoire in a diverse range of performing venues and program styles, from classical to contemporary music.
They have received several awards in prestigious international chamber music competitions such as 1st prize in the well-known Chamber Music Competition Montserrat Alavedra in Terrassa, the Jury Prize in the renowned Storioni Festival 2013 in s’Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, 2nd prize in the International Competition Villalgordo del Júcar in Albacete, Spain and 2nd prize in the Josep Mirabent i Magrans Competiton in Sitges, Spain. They have also been finalists in the International Competition Ecoparque de Trasmiera in Arnuero, Santander and in the Paper de Música de Capellades in Barcelona.
They’ve also performed in leading music halls and festivals all over Europe, such as the The Concertgebouw Kleinezaal in Amsterdam, “Mas i mas” Festival in Barcelona and the “Festival de Musica de Camara de Monteleon”, among others, in hand with an intense concert schedule in Spain, Italy and Ireland.
Their performances have been broadcast by Radio 4 (The Netherlands) and Catalunya Música (Catalonia).
Our final concert of 2016
Sunday 20th November 2016 at 3.30pm
St. Iberius Church, Wexford
Aoife Burke, cello
Dearbhla Brosnan, piano
The recital will include works by Schumann, Beethoven and Chopin
Tickets for all concerts may be purchased at the door. Ticket prices: €17, €13 (concessions) & €5 (students)