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Trio Cavatina
Priscilla Lee, cello Harumi Rhodes, violin
Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano

Saturday February 2, 2013, 8 p.m.

Trio Cavatina

About the Artists

Pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute, violinist Harumi Rhodes, and cellist Priscilla Lee formed Trio Cavatina in 2005 at the renowned Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont.  Deeply rooted in a strong sense of shared musical values, Trio Cavatina has rapidly emerged as one of today's outstanding chamber ensembles whose committed music-making prompted Harris Goldsmith to describe the trio, in his 2008 “Musical America” article, as offering “potent, intense interpretations.”  As the winner of the 2009 Naumburg International Chamber Music Competition, Trio Cavatina made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2010 with scintillating performances of two monumental Beethoven trios, Leon Kirchner's second trio, and the world premiere performance of 'Faces of Guernica' written for them by Richard Danielpour. They also made their San Francisco debut earlier that season at Herbst Theater (San Francisco Performances) as well as their Philadelphia debut as one of the youngest ensembles to perform on the prestigious Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert series.
 
Continuing to build its reputation as one of today's leading piano trios, the ensemble has been touring nationally over the last seasons with recent notable performances at Wolf Trap (Washington DC), the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, at the Pittsburg Chamber Music Society, and on the Tulsa Performing Arts series.  The 2010-2011 season also marked the Trio's debut in Puerto Rico at Pro Arte Musical.  The trio has garnered critical acclaim and enthusiastic responses from audiences and presenters wherever they perform and has received immediate re-engagements, most notably at Union College in Schenectady, NY, where the trio has performed on numerous occasions to celebrate the Messiaen centennial and the anniversaries of Haydn, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Chopin.  Trio Cavatina, in addition to their command of the classical and romantic repertoire, is committed to collaborating with living composers and to weaving 20th and 21st century repertoire into their programs.  They have worked closely with American composers Leon Kirchner, Richard Danielpour, and Augusta Read Thomas.  For more in formation, see the Trio’s Web site at http://www.triocavatina.com.
 
Trio Cavatina appears by arrangement with Barrett Vantage Artists, 505 Eighth Avenue, Suite 601, New York, NewYork 10018.

Ludwig van Beethoven (born Bonn, December 16, 1770; died Vienna, March 26, 1827)

Trio in E-flat major, op. 1, no. 1 (composed 1791-1795)

Allegro
Adagio cantabile
Scherzo: Allegro assai
Finale: Presto

As if the designation “Opus 1, Number 1” were not resonant enough all by itself, this trio (along with its opus-mates) inspired in its earliest listeners the sort of praise that might have daunted a lesser genius than Ludwig van Beethoven.  Composer, pianist, and publisher Johann Baptist Cramer (1771-1858) heard a London performance of Opus 1 and declared, “This is the man who is to console us for the loss of Mozart.”
 
The “Trios, op. 1” did not spring fully-formed from Beethoven’s brow.  In Bonn in 1791, he was already presenting early versions of the three works.  When Count Ferdinand von Waldstein sent him to Vienna to study with Joseph Haydn in October 1792, Beethoven carried with him the trios in progress as well as a letter of introduction from the count.  As implied by his nickname, "Papa" Joseph Haydn has a reputation as one of the more genial of geniuses, but clearly, Beethoven rubbed him the wrong way.  By the end of a year’s worth of tumultuous lessons, Haydn was fed up with the young upstart and passed him on to Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (1736-1809).
 
It is said that in late 1793 or early 1794, Haydn was in attendance at a musical soirée at the home of Beethoven's patron, Prince Karl Lichnowsky, where early versions of Beethoven's three “Piano Trios op. 1” were performed.  The older master praised the first two trios but recommended to Beethoven that the third be withheld from the public.  Although Haydn would later insist that he wanted only to warn Beethoven that the public might not yet be ready for the particularly forward-looking “Trio No. 3,” relations between the two deteriorated from there.  Beethoven was certain that Haydn was being either jealous, malicious, or both.
 
Although these trios were far from Beethoven’s first compositions, publishing them in 1795 as “Opus 1” indicated that he considered them the official commencement of his composing career.  The “Trio in E-flat major, op. 1, no. 1” possesses a particularly Mozartean ring in its tonal wanderings and in the independent treatment of each voice.  One of Beethoven’s first scherzos, the third movement (marked “Allegro assai”) opens with a unison passage in C minor that launches an adventurous tour of keys.  Leaping over the interval of a tenth, the theme of the “Presto” finale threatened the propriety of 1795’s world of chamber music.

Robert Schumann (born Zwickau, Saxony, June 8, 1810; died Endenich, near Bonn, July 29, 1856)

Six Canonic Etudes, op. 56 (composed 1845; arranged in 1888 by Theodor Kirchner)

Etude in C major: Nicht zu schnell
Etude in A minor: Mit innigem Ausdruck
Etude in E major: Andantino; Etwas schneller
Etude in A-flat major: Innig
Etude in B minor: Nicht zu schnell
Etude in B major: Adagio

While serving briefly on the composition faculty of the Leipzig Conservatory, founded by his friend Felix Mendelssohn in 1843, Robert Schumann came into contact with the pedal piano for the first time.  Several varieties of the instrument were created during the 18th century, each using a different mechanism to fit a piano with an organ-like pedal board.  Although pedal pianos were sometimes used as substitutes for organ practice, no less a composer than Mozart had owned one and even improvised publically on it.  Schumann was so taken with it that he convinced Mendelssohn to offer pedal piano classes at the conservatory.
 
After leaving the Leipzig Conservatory and moving to Dresden in late 1844, Robert and Clara Schumann began intensive studies of counterpoint together in January 1845.  They rented a pedal attachment for their piano so as to practice playing organ, inspiring Robert to compose three works for the pedal piano:  “Six Canonic Etudes, op. 56;” “Four Sketches, op. 58;” and “Six Fugues on the Name B-A-C-H, op. 60.”  He dedicated the “Six Canonic Etudes” to his first piano teacher, Johann Gottfried Kuntzsch (1775-1855), who likely introduced Schumann to Bach.
 
Theodor Kirchner (born Neukirchen, Saxony, December 10, 1823; died Hamburg, September 18, 1903) was a student of Mendelssohn’s at the Leipzig Conservatory while Schumann taught there.  A well-respected keyboard player, Kirchner was also a prolific composer, particularly for piano.  Both Schumann and Brahms trusted Kirchner to make faithful chamber arrangements of their larger works.  Kirchner made this much more free arrangement of Schumann’s “Six Canonic Etudes, op. 56” for piano trio in 1888, more than two decades after the composer’s death..  Others also thought highly enough of these etudes to arrange them more accessibly, including Claude Debussy for two pianos and George Bizet for piano, four hands.  Owing much to Bach, the “Etude in C major” is a strict canon at the octave.  The remaining five etudes are much more reflective of Schumann’s individuality.

Ludwig van Beethoven (born Bonn, December 16, 1770; died Vienna, March 26, 1827)

Trio in D major, op. 70, no. 1 (“Ghost”) (composed 1808)

Allegro vivace e con brio
Largo assai ed expressivo
Presto

Not since his “Opus 1” set had Beethoven returned to the realm of the piano trio.  According to letters he wrote to his publisher Breitkopf & Härtel at the time, he may have originally conceived the pair of “Trios, op. 70” as piano sonatas.  At the time, he was living in the household of one of his dearest friends and greatest champions, Countess Marie von Erdödy, the dedicatee of “Opus 70.”  Beethoven considered the countess his confessor, although there is some speculation that she could have been the mysterious “immortal beloved” to whom he wrote a famous letter in 1812.  More likely, they bonded and commiserated platonically over her physical frailty and his increasing deafness.
 
In addition to the deafness, Beethoven was suffering from financial difficulties at the time, though the explosive opening theme of the “Allegro vivace e con brio” of the “Trio in D major, op. 70, no. 1” betrays no such concerns.  In its highly rhythmic first theme, its almost exclusive devotion to a single musical idea, and its contrastingly graceful second theme, the “Allegro” has been compared to the first movement of Beethoven’s “Symphony no. 5,” composed not much earlier.
 The “Ghost” nickname derives from the main theme of the “Largo assai ed espressivo,” originally sketched out for the opening witches’ scene in a projected opera of “Macbeth,” abandoned by its librettist Heinrich Collin as being too gloomy.  The sunny “Presto” finale presents a stark contrast.

Program notes by Jay Weitz, Senior Consulting Database Specialist for music, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Dublin, Ohio. He is a contributing performing arts critic for the weekly alternative newspaper “Columbus Alive” (http://www.columbusalive.com).