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Czech Chamber Music Society • Dvořák Piano trio


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Czech Chamber Music Society

Programme

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor 

Ludwig van Beethoven
Trio in B Flat Major, Op. 11 (“Gassenhauer”) for violin, cello, and piano
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Antonín Dvořák
Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 26

Performers

Dvořák Piano trio

Jan Fišer violin
Tomáš Jamník cello
Ivo Kahánek piano

Photo illustrating the event Czech Chamber Music Society Dvořák Piano trio

Academy of Performing Arts — Martinů Hall

10 Oct 2020  Saturday 10.30am
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Customer Service of Czech Philharmonic

Tel.:  +420 227 059 227

E-mail: info@czechphilharmonic.cz

Customer Service office hours are on weekdays from 09:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m.

Performers

Dvořákovo trio  

The Dvořák Trio brings together three musicians who are among the best performers on their respective instruments: violinist Jan Fišer, cellist Tomáš Jamník and pianist Ivo Kahánek. The ensemble was established in 2004 at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, under the sponsorship of cellist Josef Chuchro and pianist Ivan Klánský. That same year, the trio won the Bohuslav Martinů Foundation's 9th annual Performance Competition. In 2007, it won the Czech Chamber Music Society Award.

The Dvořák Trio's core repertoire consists of music by Czech composers. The trio's debut album, released by Suprafon in 2013, features works by Antonín Dvořák (Dumky, Slavonic Dances) and Bedřich Smetana (Trio in G minor). The ensemble also focuses on underplayed compositions such as the piano trios of Antonín Rejcha and works by the Czech contemporary composers Luboš Sluka, Aleš Březina, and Jiří Gemrot. In 2018, the trio appeared in the Leoš Janáček Musical Marathon with an all-Janáček recital, including a reconstruction of the lost "Kreutzer Sonata" piano trio.

The Dvořák Trio appears frequently on stages in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Luxembourg - at festivals such as the Dresdner Musikfestpiele and the Mainzer Musiksommer, as well as in the Berlin Philharmonic's popular afternoon concert series. In 2011 and once again in 2015, the trio was invited to perform at the Styriarte Graz festival under the artistic patronage of Nikolaus Harnoncourt. The Dvořák Trio achieved great recognition in 2018 when it was invited, together with the Pavel Haas Quartet, the Bennewitz Quartet, and the Belfiato Wind Quintet, to perform in a full-length evening concert at the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg, Germany.

In addition to chamber music, the Dvořák Trio also has several concertante works in its repertoire: together with the Capella Istropolitana and conductor Kaspar Zehnder, the trio performed the Triple Concerto Op. 56 of Alfredo Casella at the Murten Classics festival. The trio has performed Beethoven's Triple Concerto in C major, op. 56, several times – with the Pardubice Chamber Philharmonic and the State Philharmonic Košice, as well as with PKF - Prague Philharmonia at the festival Smetana's Litomyšl. The trio has performed both of Bohuslav Martinů's triple concertos together with PKF - Prague Philharmonia and conductor Jakub Hrůša. In 2018, the trio gave its debut performance of Bohuslav Martinů's Concertino, accompanied by the Slovak Chamber Orchestra Bohdan Warchal, in the Chamber Music Hall of the Berlin Philharmonie.

Compositions

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor

Born into a wealthy music-loving family, between the ages of nine and 20 Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943) studied at the St Petersburg and Moscow Conservatories, where he duly matured into an outstanding pianist. He garnered triumphs in Russia and beyond, yet he was not content with pursuing a career as a concert virtuoso. Accordingly, Rachmaninoff went on to take composition classes from Sergei Taneyev and Anton Arensky, and he also worked as a conductor – from 1904 to 1906 at the Bolshoi Theatre, between 1911 and 1913 at the Philharmonic Society of Moscow. He lived and gave concerts abroad prior to the October Revolution, and in 1917 he left Russia for good. After emigrating to and settling in the USA, Rachmaninoff mainly earned his living as a pianist, performing his own music at concerts and recording his pieces. The one-movement, fifteen-minute Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor is the creation of a ripening 19-year-old artist. The work has been scarcely performed, evidently in part due to its being overshadowed by Trio élégiaque No. 2 in D minor, written just a year later and dedicated to the memory of the prematurely deceased Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. What is more, the former was only published in 1947, four years after Rachmaninoff’s death. The circumstances under which Trio élégiaque No. 1 came into being are not known, yet the melancholy atmosphere it is imbued with characterises Rachmaninoff’s entire oeuvre. In contrast to most piano trios, which are made up of three or four sections, the piece is cast in only one movement, in the classical sonata form, while the exposition is built on a series of episodes, with the tempo and the dynamics frequently varying. The composer completed Trio élégiaque No. 1 soon after he had finished his one-act opera Aleko in January 1892.

Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 11

In the wake of his arrival in Vienna in November 1792, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) began a new, independent phase of his life, fraught with creative and material struggle. At the time, W. A. Mozart had been dead for a year, hence the young artist took counterpoint lessons from the ageing Joseph Haydn. Before leaving for England at the beginning of 1794, Haydn recommended that Beethoven study with Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, an excellent music theorist, composer and organist, who served as Kapellmeister at Saint Stephen’s Cathedral. The most significant works Beethoven wrote during his first few years in Vienna include a set of three piano trios, Opus 1, three piano sonatas that make up Opus 2 (all dedicated to Haydn), and three piano sonatas that form Opus 10. Just as in the case of all his trios for strings, he strove to loosen and modify the sonata form. This also applies to the Trio in B flat major for piano, clarinet (or violin) and cello, Op. 11, which Beethoven conceived in late 1797 and early 1798. It was probably initiated by the Viennese clarinettist Joseph Bähr, yet the composer dedicated the piece to Countess Maria Wilhelmine von Thun, the mother-in-law of his patron, Prince Lichnowsky. The work is also known by its nickname, the “Gassenhauer Trio”, which arose from its containing variations on a melody from Joseph Weigl’s opera L’amor marinato, so beloved that it could be heard in many a Vienna lane (“die Gasse” in German). Beethoven made use of the popular tune and included variations on the theme in the trio’s final movement. The bright and humorous Trio in B flat major opens with a movement in sonata form, now and then surprising owing to comprising a wide scale of motifs and a variety of keys. The second movement, an ardent Adagio, distinctly accentuating the cello, is followed by Tema con variazioni, featuring nine variations on the mentioned aria from Weigl’s opera.

Antonín Dvořák
Piano Trio in G major, Op. 26

In 1876, when he reached the age of 35, it was still uncertain whether Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) would ever gain wide recognition on the Czech music scene. Even though the previous year the composer had been granted from Vienna a state scholarship of 400 gulden, which constituted a major source of material support, he had to continue to serve as an organist at the St Adalbert Church in Prague, which provided his staple income. Dvořák kept composing diligently, with the number of his works rising, notwithstanding that they had been scarcely performed at the city concert venues. Possessing extraordinary mental strength and remaining an optimist, the artist firmly believed that his day would come sooner or later. And he was right. Over the next few years, his situation rapidly changed and Dvořák became an internationally esteemed master. Nevertheless, at the beginning of 1876, when, within a mere two weeks, he wrote the Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 26, his outlook was bleak and the composer’s mood was – in line with the seasonal atmosphere – pretty gloomy. Downcast and plagued by doubt, Dvořák worked without joy and youthful zest, which reflected in his music. The said period culminated with sketching the sacred cantata Stabat mater, one of his most profound pieces. The Piano Trio in G minor seems to have ushered in the emotionally exacerbated, mournful cantata. It does not contain any airy, lucid passages, as is the case of many another Dvořák work. The trio has a relatively limited array of ideas and is solemn in nature, with its predominant traits being meditativeness and lyricism. Not even the Scherzo is as ebullient as one would expect from Dvořák – primarily terse, with sharp staccatos, it is far from expressing well-being. A certain brightening only occurs in the final movement, although it does not obliterate the disconcertion and sadness of the previous three sections. The Trio in G minor premiered in 1879 in Turnov at a concert held in Dvořák’s honour.

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