Classical music: Goodnight, Vienna as renowned piano trio to bow out

One of the world’s leading chamber music ensembles will make their final appearance in Vancouver as the trio disbands later this year

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Friends of Chamber Music presents The Vienna Piano Trio

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When: Sunday, April 10, 3 p.m.

Or: Vancouver Playhouse, 600 Hamilton Street

More information: friendsofchambermusic.ca


Next Sunday, the Wiener Klaviertrio is giving a matinee concert for the Friends of Chamber Music. This is the famous ensemble’s ninth appearance for Friends since 1998 and also a bittersweet proposition, as it will be their last performance in Vancouver before the trio go their separate ways later this season.

Pianist Stefan Mendel founded the Vienna Piano Trio in this city in 1988. Over the decades there have inevitably been personnel changes: Mendel now plays with American violinist David McCarroll and Austrian cellist Clemens Hagen. But the overall sound and direction has been consistent, as has the quality of his playing.

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At home, the trio offers a final season emphasizing the trios of Schubert and Meldelssohn. It’s a demonstration of Vancouver’s inimitable Friends’ position on the international chamber music scene that a Mendelssohn/Schubert program will also be on the program here, as one of the few venues to get a taste of this music. , so obviously dear to the trio. collective heart.

During a conversation with FOC mainstay Eric Wilson, I was able to explore the Friends’ relationship with the trio. Wilson explained that each season, the Friends invite new (or new to Vancouver) highly acclaimed ensembles to play. If they sparkle with the discerning FOC audience, they’re invited back, and in many cases that’s the start of long, beautiful friendships. Vancouver is becoming a place that chamber music groups want to revisit.

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Nine separate gigs over the years might seem like a lot, but once Friends audiences bond with one set, the connection only grows stronger. Consider the Beaux Arts Trio, which began performing for Friends in 1960 and visited nearly every year until America’s greatest trio retired in 2008, after giving a heartbreaking final performance in Vancouver of the two Schubert trios plus a brand new work by György Kurtág.

And speaking of longtime relationships, the final Friends concert of this season will feature the Emerson String Quartet, giving their penultimate FOC performance to end the season on May 8. This set has been playing for us for decades and will say one last goodbye next season, just before December vacation.

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But let’s get back to the concert in progress, and to the central question: how did the Vienna Piano Trio end up being so loved by our audience? Quality, of course; directory, of course. Then there is the personality. Wilson describes the trio’s sound as “in the Viennese Romantic tradition”, a sound and heritage that is guarded and cherished, largely because of the continuity provided by pianist Mendel.

The repertoire of the piano trio is often considered a little lighter than that of the string quartet. Maybe yes, maybe no, as the morning of the trio will demonstrate. Their farewell begins with Schubert’s enigmatic Nocturne, a stand-alone work from the last year of Schubert’s life. Then there’s Mendelssohn’s First Trio, a mature work that throbs with an inimitable blend of lyricism and daring energy, plus a quintessentially Mendelssonian scherzo that’s champagne in musical form.

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There remains the final work, the first of Schubert’s two incomparable works for trio with piano. They are a gift to the world of Vienna; in fact, Schubert was the only one of the classical giants to hail from this city.

Each renowned trio plays Schubert’s trios and brings their own ideas and inspirations to the works. But even in our multinational 21st century, there remains a distinct Viennese musical accent: subtle nuances in rhythm, expression and rhythm. The content of Schubert’s trio is of the highest standard; In the hands of the Vienna Piano Trio, listeners can expect to hear all of its generous, uplifting and heartbreaking content delivered with an added dose of charm, feeling and insight.

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  3. We’ve got Vancouver’s classical music scene covered here


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