Judith Weir

Judith Weir

Eric Moe

Eric Moe

Joan Tower

Joan Tower

Concert #5

Church of St. Matthew and St. Timothy

Celebrating the Living Trio

The Entelechron Trio

Roger Zahab, violin | David Russell, cello | Robert Frankenberry, piano

Très Lent (1994) — Joan Tower

for cello and piano

Owl-Light (2004) — Gilda Lyons

for solo violin

We Happy Few (1990) — Eric Moe

for piano trio

Piano Trio Two (2003-4) — Judith Weir

  1. How grass and trees become enlightened
  2. Your light may go out
  3. Open your own treasure house 

PROGRAM NOTES

Très Lent was written as an homage to Olivier Messiaen, particularly to his Quartet for the End of Time, which had a special influence on my work. When I was the pianist for the Da Capo Chamber Players, we frequently performed Messiaen’s quartet over a seven-year period. During this time, I grew to love the many risks Messiaen took—particularly the use of very slow “time,” both in tempo and in the flow of ideas and events. Très Lent is my attempt to make "slow" music work. It is affectionately dedicated to my long-time friend and colleague, who never stops growing as a musician and cellist, Andre Emelianoff.  — Joan Tower

"Owl-light," known also as "Blindman's Holiday" and entre chien et loup (between dog and wolf), is the hour of dusk when it is too dark to work but still too bright to light candles. It is the time of day when shadow and haze blur the world around us. A new light, albeit short lived, is born of the union of day and night. Owl-Light, for solo violin, plays with this space between opposites setting quick gestures against sustained tones; pizzicato phrases against legato lines; and airy bowings against the snap pizz. The hymn Steal Away is referenced throughout, its tune emerging gradually over the course of the piece. Owl-Light is about five minutes long.  — Gilda Lyons

We Happy Few was written for the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society in 1990, and was begun during a residency at the MacDowell Colony. Both the rhythmic landscape of the beginning and the obsessive pitch material are somewhat evocative of the blues (despite the title). As in many classical piano trios, one motor for the piece is provided by the friendly, sometimes boisterous competition between piano and strings for the right to project the same basic material. As for the “few” in the title, We Happy Few is a celebration of the paradoxical artistic economics of chamber music, wherein less is generally more. Who complains that a late Beethoven string quartet wasn’t written for orchestra? As for the "happy", these lines from Keats may offer an entrance to the work's complex emotional climate:

Ay, in the very temple of Delight

Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,

Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue

Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;

His soul shall taste the sadness of her might...

We Happy Few reaches its happy-tragic conclusion after about 12 minutes.  — Eric Moe

The three movement titles of Piano Trio Two are taken from a collection of Zen stories; very short anecdotes which resonate in the memory but do not reveal their secrets easily. “How grass and trees become enlightened” presents a series of extreme contrasts between high and low, loud and soft. The musical material is one of my own original songs, written to an African text, which in this version has started to sprout energetic vegetation. In “Your light may go out”, the violin and cello, very closely intertwined, begin by presenting a dark musical line imprinted with the ghostly image of an English folk tune. The piano, playing chords, adds ever-increasing illumination to the music, until the end, where darkness and brightness meet. “Open your own treasure house” is a joyous dance, built on a scale pattern of my own invention; an imaginary raga, perhaps. Piano Trio Two was commissioned for the 2004 Spitalfields Festival by George Law, in celebration of his 75th birthday. It was first performed by the Florestan Trio.  — Judith Weir