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Unnamed String Trio To Open 2024 for Chinese Foundation

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In their second season as an as-yet-unnamed partnership, the well-known soloists Stella Chen, violin; Matthew Lipman, viola; and Brannon Cho, cello will make mark an intriguing Boston debut recital at Jordan Hall Saturday night for the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts with Leo Weiner’s String Trio in G minor, Op. 6, Emmy Frensel Wegener’s Suite for Violin, Viola, and Cello; Gideon Klein’s String Trio, and Mozart’s Divertimento in E-flat Major, K. 563. More details on the concert and ticketing can be found HERE . The players reponded collectively to our questions.

This program is one we absolutely adore. It would be impossible to deny that one of the biggest draws of forming a string trio is getting to truly live with the Mozart Divertimento ― a piece so grand, loved, and profound. We’ve paired it with three seldom played works that are full of spirit, character, and every bit as lovable.

The Gideon Klein (1944) string trio is a dynamic and innovative work, composed in a contemporaneous Expressionist style. It showcases polytonality, mixed rhythmic meters, and Moravian folk tunes, and every bar is jam-packed with emotional content. At times it’s gutsy, witty, or even sarcastic; at times it cascades through moments of pain and anguish. Despite only being 13 minutes, it paints a deeply moving picture. The trio stands alone as a formidable work of art without prior knowledge of the composer or his experience. That is, without knowing that Klein finished composing the trio in Theresienstadt, a Nazi concentration camp, just days before being transferred to Auschwitz where he met his ultimate demise. Being aware of the details of the genesis of this work has enhanced our interpretation, and we’re particularly struck by the moments of hope present alongside the despair. Every listener will hear something unique, but the context of the composition certainly adds depth and meaning to the experience, and we are deeply moved by its raw passion, pain, and beauty. We featured it on our debut performance in Germany last year.

The Emmy Wegener is a collection of five character vignettes that have been incredibly fun to spin into life. And we open with the Leo Weiner, an often overlooked but full-scale string trio, which features lush harmonies, romantic drama, and finger-bending virtuosity.

This program represents the full spectrum of expression from the string trio form. Although it’s less common than the piano trio or string quartet, we are passionate that the string trio is musically and historically one of the most significant mediums through which composers have delivered ultimate expression. It also showcases the three of us as individuals, coming together. Trusting one another so completely gives us the freedom to be spontaneous, flexible, and colorful. Sharing the well-known and beloved Mozart, as well as the seldom-played Weiner, Wegener and Klein to the Boston audience is a great privilege that we look forward to.

We are enthusiastic about the formation of our string trio, and absolutely plan to be a continuous ensemble. The three of us have been close friends since we were teenagers, and we see our instrumentation as an opportunity. While not blessed with as rich a repertoire as the piano trio or string quartet, the members of a string trio must shine individually as well as blend seamlessly into supportive roles. Simply put, there are fewer instruments with more musical responsibilities — a challenge that intrigues us! 

One of our goals is to shine a light on the kaleidoscopic body of string trio repertoire. Beyond the popular five trios by Beethoven, two by Schubert, Mozart’s iconic Divertimento, and Dohnányi’s famous Serenade, there is a plethora of top-notch works for string trio. This includes pieces by Schoenberg, Schnittke, Penderecki, Weinberg, Sibelius, Francaix, Jean Cras, and more recent pieces by Andrew Norman and Paul Wiancko, to name a few; this repertoire often gets overlooked in favor of string quartets or piano trios. With some digging, we have been able to discover several more hidden gems (like the Klein, Wegener, and Weiner that make up the first half of this program) that span from short character pieces to full romantic works. We are proud of this program, because it connects the familiar with the unfamiliar, and we are excited by the opportunity of presenting the string trio as an immersive and compelling form of chamber music.

We made our debuts as a string trio in Germany and New York last season, and have many more exciting concerts coming up, including this one at Jordan Hall in Boston, the Rockport Chamber Music Festival and the Ravinia Festival in Chicago this summer. We’re looking forward to expanding our presence in North America and abroad, and actually have commissions from Andreia Pinto Correia and Joan Tower planned for future seasons.

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