by Michael Parloff, Artistic Director, Parlance Chamber Concerts
On Sunday afternoon, January 27 at 3 PM, the legendary violinist Pinchas Zukerman will collaborate with cellist Amanda Forsyth and pianist Angela Cheng in three treasured piano trios by Beethoven, Arensky, and Brahms.
About The Pinchas Zukerman Trio
With a celebrated career encompassing five decades, violinist Pinchas Zukerman reigns as one of today’s most sought-after and versatile musicians. A world-renowned virtuoso, Zukerman is admired for the expressive lyricism of his playing, singular beauty of tone, and impeccable musicianship, which can be heard throughout his discography of over 100 albums.
Amanda Forsyth is considered one of North America’s most dynamic cellists. Her intense richness of tone, remarkable technique, and exceptional musicality combine to enthrall audiences and critics alike.
Pianist Angela Cheng has been Gold Medalist of the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Masters Competition, as well as the first Canadian to win the prestigious Montreal International Piano Competition.
In 2011, Pinchas Zukerman, Amanda Forsyth, and Angela Cheng, began offering piano trio repertoire. The ensemble has traveled around the globe to appear in Japan, China, Australia, Spain, Italy, France, Great Britain, Hungary, South Africa, Istanbul, Russia, and throughout the United States.
About Beethoven’s “Kakadu Variations”
Beethoven’s last-published piano trio, nicknamed the “Kakadu Variations,” has the unusual distinction of spanning of all three periods of his creative life. The core of the piece, composed in his early 30s, is a lighthearted set of variations on Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu (“I am the tailor, Cockatoo”), the “hit song” from a popular opera of the day by Wenzel Müller. When the opera was revived in Vienna in 1814, the 44-year-old Beethoven decided to expand the piece to include a surprisingly portentous introduction and a dramatic coda. Ten years later, the 54-year-old master paid a final visit to his early trio, this time adding fugal elaborations in the manner of his mature compositions. By the time it was finally published in 1824, the Kakadu Variations had evolved into a stylistic amalgamation of Beethoven’s early-period charm, middle-period audacity, and late-period profundity.
The trio’s avian nickname refers to the “tailor cockatoo” from Wenzel Müller’s charming song. The title also reminds the listener of the song’s stylistic resemblance to Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen, the signature tune of Papageno the bird catcher in Mozart’s The Magic Flute.
About Arensky’s Piano Trio in D minor
Anton Arensky was one of the most brilliantly talented composer-pianists of pre-revolutionary Russia. A protégé of the nationalist composer Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, he later fell under the sway of the more Eurocentric Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Rimsky-Korsakov, feeling slighted by his former student’s defection, later wrote, “In his youth, Arensky did not escape some influences from me; later the influences came from Tchaikovsky…He did very little, and what little he did will quickly be forgotten.”
In fact, Arensky accomplished a great deal in his short, tempestuous life, producing three operas, two symphonies, various concertos, chamber, and choral works, and reams of short piano pieces created to showcase his own remarkable keyboard virtuosity. True to Rimsky-Korsakov’s prediction, though, most of Arensky’s music is unknown today.
The most notable exception is his passionate Piano Trio in D minor, which remains a beloved mainstay of the chamber repertoire. Dedicated to the memory of the great Russian cellist Karl Davïdov, the piece ranges from yearning expansiveness to bejeweled elegance. The heart of the trio is its elegiac third movement, which features a grief-stricken cello solo that gives way to a dreamy interlude, perhaps intended as a musical evocation of Davïdov himself.
About Brahms’s Piano Trio in C Major, Op. 87
Over the decades that Brahms lived in Vienna, he loved to spend his summers in picturesque alpine resorts where he could compose in rural tranquility. Every morning he would take an energizing mountain stroll to consolidate his musical ideas and gain inspiration for his creative work in the day ahead.
His favorite summer retreat was the lakeside Austrian village of Bad Ischl. There Brahms completed his C major piano trio in June of 1882 when he was 49 and at the peak of his creative powers. Always a notoriously self-critical artist, Brahms often destroyed the works he felt did not live up to his own exacting standards. Fortunately, he seems to have been unusually happy his C-major piano trio. When he submitted the work to his publisher, he included an uncharacteristically self-congratulatory message: “You have not yet had such a beautiful trio from me and very likely have not published its equal in the last ten years.”
The piece abounds in soaring melodies, Hungarian accents, mysterious rustlings, and climaxes of open-hearted nobility. The C-major Trio will bring the Pinchas Zukerman Trio’s concert to an exhilarating conclusion.
The performance will take place on Sunday, January 27, from 3:00 PM to approximately 5:00 PM.
The event will take place at West Side Presbyterian Church, 6 South Monroe Street, Ridgewood. Free parking and childcare for children 3 to 6. Tickets at the door: Adults $50; Seniors (65+): $40; Young Adults (21 – 39): $30; Students (under 21): $20