Sunday July 26, 2015 4:30pm

Eroica Trio

Overview

“The Trio plays with technical flair, raw driven energy and high spirits.”
– The Wall Street Journal

Thrilled to be returning to Caramoor, Eroica Trio has put together a signature program for Caramoor audiences that offers a wide range of repertoire.  From some of the great masterpieces of the Western World to custom pieces arranged for and by Eroica, this performance is incredibly diverse offering something for everyone. 

The Grammy nominated Eroica Trio enraptures audiences with flawless technical virtuosity, irresistible enthusiasm and sensual elegance. The three women who make up this celebrated ensemble electrify the concert stage with their passionate performances. One of the most sought after trio in the world, Eroica Trio has played concerts on six continents and with countless orchestras around the globe.

“There is an edge of the seat intensity to every note they produce.” – The New York Times

Program: 

Bach Chaconne from Partita in D minor

Described as huge and lush, this piece was arranged for Eroica Trio by Anne Dudley (Founding member of the Art Of Noise and critically acclaimed composer, producer and arranger) and was featured on their  ground-breaking “Baroque” album for EMI. 

Suk  Elegie Op. 23

Wanting to play a contrasting piece between Bach and Schoenfield, Eroica selected a rarely played piece by the lengendary violinist,  Joseph Suk, who studied composition with Antonin Dvořák.  Reminiscent of Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, it evokes a story of love; the music moves the audience between the emotions of anguish and contentment.   

Schoenfield  Café Music (1986)

One of their most requested pieces, Café Music is an ingenious combination of American genres from Ragtime to African American spirituals to Broadway show tunes.  This trio was written by Paul Schoenfield to be intimate enough for a café setting but also work within a concert hall.  Brought to audiences by Eroica Trio, they recorded this piece on their debut CD with EMI. 

Brahms Piano Trio No. 2 in C major, Op. 87

Ending the program with one of the greatest masterworks of all time, Eroica Trio brings this heartbreaking and utterly romantic piece to life.  There is such personal connection to this music as quoted by Eroica pianist Erika Nickrenz, “You can hear Brahms (unrequited) love for Clara Schumann in his music.  It’s an incredible experience to perform it- I feel like I’m not even playing the piano.  I feel like I’m an entire orchestra.”

 

Suk Elegy – Eroica Trio

Café Music by Paul Schoefield – Eroica Trio

Erika Nickrenz, piano

Sara Parkins, violin

Sara Sant’Ambrogio, cello

The most sought-after trio in the world, the Grammy®-nominated Eroica Trio enraptures audiences with flawless technical virtuosity, irresistible enthusiasm and sensual elegance. The three women who make up this celebrated ensemble electrify the concert stage with their passionate performances. The New York Times writes, “There is an edge of the seat intensity to every note they produce.”

The Trio won the prestigious Naumburg Award, resulting in a highly successful Lincoln Center debut, and has since toured the United States, Europe, Middle East, South America and Asia. While maintaining their demanding concert schedule, the Eroica Trio has released eight critically lauded recordings for Angel/EMI classics Records, garnering them multiple Grammy® nominations. The first all-female chamber ensemble to reach the top echelon of the field, the women of the Eroica Trio has shattered the age-old gender barrier, leading the vanguard and inspiring many to follow.

The unique history of the players of the Eroica Trio goes all the way back to childhood. Sara Sant’Ambrogio and Erika Nickrenz first met at age 12, when Erika came to study with Sara’s grandmother, the founder of Red Fox Music Camp. Two years later, Sara collaborated with violinist Sara Parkins at the renowned Meadowmount School of Music, where they became fast friends, and later became roommates when they were both students at The Curtis Institute of Music. Sara Parkins and Erika Nickrenz also met in their teens, playing together as students at the Pre-College division of The Juilliard School and at the Tanglewood Music Center. That same year the Eroica Trio was formed at The Juilliard School.  This intricate web of early connections helped forge a lifelong bond between the three women of the Eroica Trio.

The Eroica Trio performs the Beethoven Triple Concerto more frequently than any other trio in the world, having appeared with renowned symphonies such as Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, Mostly Mozart Orchestra, Nashville, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Houston, New Jersey and Seattle. In addition, The Trio has performed the work abroad with Orquesta Sinfonica de Euskadi in Spain, Haydn Orchestra in Italy, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Budapest Symphony in Germany, and on multiple tours in the United States with the Cincinnati Symphony as well as with the Prague Chamber Orchestra. The Eroica Trio’s recording of the Beethoven Triple with the Prague Chamber Orchestra was so successful it landed this piece on Billboards Top 20 for the first time in recording history. The Trio appeared on the German television program “Klassich!” performing the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Munich Symphony, which was aired throughout Europe. A multi-city tour of North America with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Maestro Fabio Luisi, culminated in a sold out performance on the “Great Performers at Lincoln Center” series in Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.

This season the Trio will be performing two World Premieres; The Loom, a work by Bruce Wolosoff, inspired by the watercolors of Eric Fischl, to be performed in Calderwood Hall at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and The Winter Trio by Michael Torke, to be premiered in Pasadena on the Coleman Series. Another exciting project for the Trio is the upcoming premiere of Argentinean composer Daniel Binelli’s Concerto for Piano Trio, Bandoneon and Orchestra.

The Eroica Trio has appeared on numerous television programs, including ABC’s The View, CNN’s Showbiz Today, CBS and ABC News, the CBS Morning Show and Saturday Morning, A&E’s Breakfast with the Arts, The Isaac Mizrahi Show, Pure Oxygen, Bloomberg TV and Fox’s The Crier Report. “Eroica!,” a special documentary about the Trio and its commissioning of a new triple concerto by Kevin Kaska, premiered on the PBS series Independent Lens and has had multiple airings worldwide.

The group has been featured in such magazines as Elle, Glamour, Vanity Fair, Detour, Marie Claire, Gotham, Entrée, Bon Appétit, Time Out New York, Gramophone, Piano, Vivace, Auditorium, and Chamber Music. In addition, the ladies have graced the covers of magazines as diverse as Fanfare, Cigar, Strings, Tall, and Strad. Grand Marnier® created a new cocktail dubbed “The Eroica” which was unveiled for the release of their “Pasión” recording. Chateau Sainte Michelle, a vineyard in Seattle, also named one of its Gold Medal winning Reislings in honor of the Trio.

Whether the Eroica Trio is interpreting the Baroque Masters, the power and strength of Beethoven, the jazzy tunes of Schoenfield or the Bluegrass toe-tapping rhythms of Mark O’Connor, their performances are deeply personal and continue to thrill audiences around the world. To quote the San Francisco Examiner, “It has been decades since this country has produced a chamber music organization with this much passion….”

Eroica Trio most recently performed at Caramoor in October 2006.

Johann Sebastian Bach / 1685-1750 / Arr. for piano trio by Anne Dudley/b. 1956/ Chaconnefrom Partita in D minor

 

During the time that Bach was employed by Prince Leopold I at Anhalt-Cothen, from 1717-1723, his musical output was strictly secular. This was quite unusual for the pious Lutheran composer, but his Calvinist employer disdained sacred music and had a special fondness for instrumental music. Consequently, most of Bach’s chamber works were composed  during  these  six  years  at  Cothen  including  two  trio  sonatas,  the  six Brandenburg Concertos, the concertos for violin, and the first two of his four orchestral suites. It was during this same time that Bach composed such notable instrumental works as Book I of the Well-tempered Clavier,  six sonatas for violin and harpsichord, six suites for solo cello, and six sonatas and partitas for solo violin, from which comes the Chaconne heard in this performance.

Today’s performance of the Chaconne is the new arrangement for piano trio by composer, arranger, and producer Anne Dudley, one of the most prolific and gifted British musicians of her generation.  Ms. Dudley took the world by storm when she won the 1997 Academy Award for her endearing score to the highest grossing British film of all time, The Full Monty.  Only the second woman composer to win an Oscar, she continues her legacy of breaking new ground in a predominantly male industry. With a master’s degree from King’s College and performer’s diploma from the Royal College of Music, the composer has written extensively in the classical, instrumental, and pop genres. This year, Dudley’s music will appear in Pushing Tin, a film for 20th Century Fox starring John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton, and My Father’s House, an animated feature for the BBC/S4C to be released in December. She also arranged, orchestrated, and conducted the music to Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance.  As a founding member of The Art of Noise, Ms. Dudley and the group will be releasing a new recording on ZTT Records this summer entitled The Seduction of Claude Debussy.

The renown of the Partita in D Minor is due largely to its chaconne. Its inventiveness is truly incomparable and after two centuries, it still reigns supreme. It is the most gigantic of all sets of variations in existence. It is also interesting to note that the theme of the Chaconne is the same as that used by Bach in the Crucifixus of the Mass in B Minor.  The chaconne was a dance which flourished in Spain during the 16th century. Through the curious changes in which dances and folk songs became strict musical forms, it made its way into Italy, then on into Germany. While originally a dance, for Bach it was a set of variations on a solid tonic. He presents 29 variations on a solemn eight-measure theme not unlike that of a sarabande. In triple meter, the Chaconne glides along in a regular rhythm—it is full of textural changes, from violent double and quadruple stops to sweet solo passages to a poignant section full of suspensions, arpeggios, and antiphonal effects.

Of Bach’s partitas, in 1802 Johann Nicolaus Forkel, Bach’s first biographer, commented:

“This work (the Partitas) made a great noise in the musical world of its time. Such excellent compositions for the harpsichord had never beenseen or heard before. Anyone who had learned to perform some pieces out of them well could thereby make his fortune in the world, and even in our times, a young artist might gain acknowledgment by doing so; they are so brilliant, fine sounding, expressive, and always new.”

– lleen Zovluck

 

Josef Suk /1874-1935 / Elégié Des-dur, Op. 23

Joseph Suk was a pupil and, later, son-in-law of Dvořák. His compositions, mainly orchestral works and piano pieces, are typical of the Czech nationalist movement, but also show an affinity with Mahler. For forty years he was a violinist in the well-known Bohemian String Quartet. Suk’s Elégié is a short piece, falling into three distinct sections and a coda. The violin presents the main theme, and the cello repeats it, in a higher key, with the violin this time providing a counterpoint. Throughout, the piano supports with rich, syncopated harmonies. A stormy section follows, with orchestral tremolo effects in the piano part and a new, fragmented tune on the violin. After only thirteen bars this music subsides into a reprise of the opening material, with the fragmented tune added to the texture. A dramatic piano arpeggio introduces a ‘mysterioso’ coda, in which the cello makes a final reference to the main theme, accompanied on violin and piano by both of the theme’s counterpoints.
Suk’s Elégié for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 23, is a shortened version of a piece of the same name composed for a larger number of instruments in 1902, two years before Dvořák’s death. It was written to commemorate the death of a poet, writer and dramatist, Julius Zeyer.

 

Paul Schoenfield / b. 1947/ Café Music (1985)

Paul Schoenfield, bo rn in Detro it on January 24, 1947, began studying piano at age six and wrote his first composition the following  year. He received his Doctorate in

Musical Arts fro m the University of Arizona (at age 22) after earning an undergraduate degree at Carnegie-Mellon University. Schoenfield worked for several years in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area as a freelance composer/pianist before serving on the faculty  of the University of Akron from 1988 to 1993. He has since devoted himself to composition while dividing his time between Israel and the United States. Schoenfield has receive d numerous commissio n s and has been awarded grants  from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Commission, Rockefeller Fund, Minnesota Commissioning Club, American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, and Chamber Music  America. His music has been performed both on television and radio nationally and internationally and by such leading ensembles as the New York Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Savannah Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Haifa Symphony Orchestra. His works include a choral piece (Soli Deo Gloria) for a gospel group in Chicago, a viola concerto for the Cleveland Orchestra, and The Merchant and the Pauper, based on a story by Rabbi Nachman of Bratislava, for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Recordings of his music have been issued on the EMI, Argo, Accord, Innova, New World, and Nonesuch labels.

Writing in the third  person, the composer noted  that “Paul Schoenfield is one of an increasing number of contemporary composers whose works are inspired  by the whole range of musical experience—popular styles (both American and international) and vernacular folk traditions, as well as the established  forms  and idioms ofcultivated music-making (which are often treated with sly twists).  Schoenfield frequently mixes within a single piece ideas that emerged from entirely different musical worlds, making them ‘talk’ to each other, so to speak, anddelighting in the surprises that their interaction elicits.”

“The idea to compose Café-Music,” Schoenfield explai ned, “first came to me in 1985 after sitting in one night for the pianist of the house trio at Murray’s Restaurant in Minneapolis. My intention was to write a kind of high­class, dinner-music mu sic which could be played at a restaurant, but might also (just barely) find its way into a concert ha ll.”  Café Music, as delightful for the audience  as it is challenging for the performers, ranges across a wide range of popular American styles, from blues, spirituals, and sentimental ballads to ragtime,  jazz, and stride.

 

Johannes Brahms /1833-1897/ Piano Trio No. 2 in C major, Op. 87

The Piano Trio in C major finds the forty-nine-year-old Brahms at the peak of his creative powers. Each movement is rich in melodic material, which the composer expands, varies, and transforms. The violin and cello introduce the main theme of the first movement in octaves. The strings play this theme at each of its formal statements in the movement except the last, where, finally, the piano is allowed to offer a brilliant declamatory statement that brings the movement to a sweeping close. The sedate second theme appears first in the piano over a rippling accompaniment figure in the left hand; this figure actually becomes a third subject in its own right. The development is stormy and expansive, Brahms pouring out transformations and variations of his themes.

A traditional recapitulation of all the themes and an extensive coda conclude the movement.

The Andante con moto consists of a theme and five variations in the key of A minor. The strings present the main theme, a gypsy-like melody of marked Hungarian flavor set against an accompaniment of chords played on the off-beat in the piano. The theme is a double theme: the piano plays an equal role with the strings in the five variations. The first, third, and fifth variations are based on the string melody, while the second and fourth are derived from the piano accompaniment of the main theme. Architecturally, the movement builds to a dramatic peak in the third variation where bold questions in the strings are answered by the piano. The romantic fourth variation is notable because it appears in the contrasting key of A major, its elegant theme first stated in the cello.

Instead of the “jest” implied by its title, the c-minor Scherzo is dark, shadowy, and full of eerie sounds. The predominant dynamic is pianissimo, demanding the utmost delicacy and control from all three players, particularly the pianist. The soaring melody of the contrasting trio in C major offers a sunny but momentary respite before the ghostly Scherzo returns.

The intensity of the Finale’s music precludes the humorous playfulness suggested by the marking Allegro giocoso. Two themes come into play in this sonata-rondo, which is similar in form to the last movements of Haydn and Mozart. The first is expressive and impassioned, performed mostly by the strings. The contrasting second theme, lighter in character, pits the duple rhythms of the strings against triplets in the piano. As he develops his themes Brahms makes a great deal of the repeated staccato notes with which the piano accompanies the first theme. The exuberance of the movement forms a brilliant conclusion to this masterwork.

-John Noell Moore

Program notes courtesy of artists’ management.