Trio Solisti

Maria Bachmann, piano
Alexis Pia Gerlach, cello
Jon Klibonoff, piano

Sunday, August 11, 2013, 4 pm

“Kindred Souls”


Sonatina in D Major, D. 384, Op. posth. 137, No. 1 (1816)
Franz Schubert (1797–1828)

Allegro molto
Allegro vivace

Suite No. 2 for Cello, Op. 80 (1967)
Benjamin Britten (1913–1976)

Declamato: Largo
Fuga: Andante
Scherzo: Allegro molto
Andante lento
Ciaccona: Allegro


Piano Variations (1930)
Aaron Copland (1900–1990)

Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67 (1944)
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975)

Andante — Moderato — Poco più mosso
Allegro con brio

Yamaha is the Official Piano of Maverick Concerts.
The C7 grand piano in the Maverick Concert Hall is a generous loan from Yamaha Artists Services.

next week

Saturday, August 17, 6:30 pm

Steve Gorn, bansuri flute,
with Samir Chatterjee, tabla, and special guest
Sanjoy Bandopadhyay, sitar

Sunday, August 18, 4 pm

The Borromeo String Quartet

Music of Bach, Beethoven, and Dvořák


Program Notes © 2013 by Miriam Villchur Berg*


Hailed “The most exciting piano trio in America” by The New Yorker, Trio Solisti celebrated their 10th Anniversary in the 2011–2012 season. The trio is comprised of three brilliant instrumentalists—violinist Maria Bachmann, cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach, and pianist Jon Klibonoff. One of America’s most notable critics, Terry Teachout of The Wall St. Journal, proclaimed, “To my mind, Trio Solisti has now succeeded the Beaux Arts Trio as the outstanding chamber-music ensemble of its kind.”

The trio has made critically acclaimed debuts at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series, Town Hall’s Peoples’ Symphony Concerts, and the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts. The ensemble has appeared as a guest of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, at Seattle’s Meany Hall, and at La Jolla’s Revelle series, and has performed in Canada and Italy.

The 2012–2013 season highlights include the release of Trio Solisti’s new CD of Dvořák trios. Chamber Music Monterey Bay commissioned 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts to write a work for Trio Solisti to premiere in the fall of 2012, and the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music commissioned Lowell Liebermann to write a piano trio for Trio Solisti, which they premiered in 2013. They performed the world premiere of Vita Brevis by Paul Moravec with lyric soprano Amy Burton of the Metropolitan Opera, and released a recording of the work on NAXOS.

Their album Pictures at an Exhibition includes Trio Solisti’s own arrangement of Mussorgsky’s monumental Pictures at an Exhibition and Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor. Their CD Tempest Fantasy, a CD of music by Paul Moravec on NAXOS American Classics, includes the world premiere recording of Moravec’s 2004 Pulitzer-winning work Tempest Fantasy, with guest clarinetist David Krakauer. Of this release Fanfare Magazine said, “These performances are really almost beyond belief.”

The Trio is the founding ensemble of Telluride MusicFest in Colorado, an annual chamber music festival that presented its tenth season in 2012. Their guest artists have included pianist Adam Neiman, clarinetists David Krakauer and Jon Manasse, violists Hsin-Yun Huang and Toby Appel, cellist Matt Haimovitz, and composer-in-residence Philip Glass. Trio Solisti performs as a trio and as individual guest artists at many festivals, including Caramoor, Skaneateles Festival, Philip Glass’s Days and Nights Festival in Carmel, the Laguna Beach Festival, the Moab Festival in Utah, and the Cape Cod Festival.

Acclaimed as solo artists, Trio Solisti’s members frequently perform with orchestras. In 2010, Mr. Klibonoff performed Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Virginia Symphony, and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major with the Buffalo Philharmonic. Ms. Bachmann performed Philip Glass’s Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra with the Orchestra of The Hague in the Netherlands.

Trio Solisti has appeared on the nationally broadcast radio show St. Paul Sunday and has been featured on NPR’s Performance Today in numerous live performances from around the United States. They have been presented in multi-concert series at the famed Morgan Library in New York and are currently in residence at Adelphi University in Long Island.





Of all the major composers of the classical era, Franz Schubert was the only one born and raised in Vienna. The city was filled with creative activity and gemütlichkeit—joy and well-being. This congenial atmosphere stands in sharp contrast to the circumstances of Schubert’s life. He never found a way to make a living. And despite the fact that he was extremely prolific, publishers continuously rejected his music, and only a very few of his many compositions were ever published during his lifetime.

Schubert originally called his Sonatina in D Major, D384, Op. posth. 137, No. 1, a “violin sonata.” In order to make it more saleable, Diabelli, when he published it in 1836, changed its title to “sonatina”—i.e., easier to play and more appropriate for amateur music making. The first movement (Allegro molto) opens with the two instruments in unison, playing a theme based on the notes of the major triad. With its simple elegance, it could easily be mistaken for something by Mozart until the development section, where Schubert takes the theme into uncharted tonal waters.

In the middle movement (Andante) we hear Schubert the melodist. The piano takes the first aria, a gentle, unassuming melody. The violin takes its turn with a ballad of longing in D minor. The piano repeats its tune, this time with a violin descant as accompaniment.

The finale (Allegro vivace) offers a folk-like dance tune in 6/8 time. Piano and violin play in dialogue, one finishing the other’s sentences, or what jazz players call “trading eights” (eight measures each, that is). The piece is not meant to be courtly or sophisticated, but it bears Schubert’s unmistakable charm.

Benjamin Britten wrote three Cello Suites after hearing Mstislav Rostropovich play Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello. Britten’s Second Suite for Cello, Op. 80 is the shortest of the three, with only five movements, whereas the outer pair each has nine.

The work opens with a Declamato (Largo) using recitative style, as in Bach’s oratorios. In the Fuga (Andante), Britten again pays homage to Bach, who was the master of the fugue. By switching from middle to low to high registers quickly, he gives the impression of two and sometimes three separate voices sounding at the same time. At the end, he even adds the Baroque technique known as stretto, in which the voices enter much more quickly, practically tripping over one another.

In the Scherzo, Britten uses a wide variety of textures: dialogue, forceful double stops (two strings bowed at the same time), solo runs that fade away, and passages that traverse the entire range of the cello.

In the Andante (Lento), Britten combines bowing and plucking to create a unique sound. The rich, full sonority gives the uncanny impression that several instruments are playing together.

Britten returns to Baroque styles for the final, longest movement (Ciaccona: Allegro). The chaconne is a form of theme and variations with the melody in the bass. Variations take the piece into various ranges, tempi, textures, and styles.

Aaron Copland made the American contribution to the list of important nationalist composers. He studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, who arranged for a concert of his music to be played by the New York Symphony Orchestra. He is best known for Appalachian Spring, Fanfare for the Common Man, and his ballets Rodeo and Billy the Kid. Copland was one of the first homosexual composers to live openly with his partner, photographer Victor Kraft. Copland and his partner had a cabin in Woodstock in the summer of 1939. Benjamin Britten and his partner Peter Pears rented a cabin nearby, and the four spent their evenings together, playing tennis or making music.

Copland began work his first major piano piece, Piano Variations, immediately after his return from Paris. He wrote to a friend that he composed them out of order, but still wanted each one to flow from the previous one: “I cannot explain this contradiction. One fine day, when the time was right, the order of the variations fell into place.” The work consists of a theme, twenty variations, and a coda. The germ from which the variations grow is a four-note cell that is heard at the outset, ranging over two octaves. Copland inverts it, mirrors it, reverses it, and makes other careful use of it, but always within the context of making music out of it rather than adhering to mere academic interest or cleverness.

Shostakovich dedicated his Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op 67, to the memory of his dear friend, Ivan Ivanovich Sollertinsky, a brilliant scholar who died suddenly at the age of forty-one. Sollertinsky had helped Shostakovich by writing a positive review of his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, but after Stalin saw the opera, both the composer and the critic were reviled and quickly fell from favor. Although the official version was that Sollertinsky had died of a heart attack, there was speculation that he had been murdered by Stalin’s secret police.

Shostakovich starts with a slow section (Andante), as is common in elegies. Violin and cello trade roles, with the cello playing an eerie, high theme in harmonics. The violin enters as the alto in fugal harmony, and finally the piano provides a dark, low bass. As the tempo moves to Moderato, the piano takes the theme as the strings play pizzicato. Simple folk tunes, including a cheerful ditty reminiscent of “Old MacDonald,” appear, somewhat incongruously, as the music builds in speed and intensity.

The second movement (Allegro con brio) is the scherzo, as well as a portrait of the dedicatee. Sollertinsky’s sister described the frenzied and breathless movement thus: “That is his temper, his polemics, his manner of speech, his habit of returning to one and the same thought, developing it.” The central Trio is lighthearted and celebratory, featuring the piano.

In the Largo, piano chords imitate the tolling of bells. The violin plays a mournful melody, and then accompanies the cello as it takes up the tune. This movement is a passacaglia, an old form of theme and variations, with the strings interweaving variations above the piano’s ostinato progression (a repeated pattern of chords).

Themes from previous movements—including the canons and the “E-I-E-I-O” ditty—reappear in the finale (Allegretto) like thoughts and memories of the departed. Klezmer melodies make this movement unique and poignant. The composer wrote: “It seems I comprehend what distinguishes Jewish music. A cheerful melody is built on sad intonations…. Why does he sing a cheerful song? Because he is sad at heart.” Shostakovich here honors his friend as well as all the Jews throughout Europe suffering under both Nazism and Stalinism.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg. It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy,  publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at Program Notes © 2013 by Miriam Villchur Berg