Han-Setzer-Finckel Trio

Wu Han – piano               Philip Setzer – violin               David Finckel – cello

Violinist Philip Setzer, cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han make as fine a piano trio as the world knows. Given their résumés, this is no surprise: Finckel spent more than thirty years with the famed Emerson String Quartet, Setzer is a founding member of the Emerson, and Wu Han has an outstanding career as an orchestral soloist and chamber player. Together, these three bring decades of experience to their exploration of the piano trio repertory and have become the standard bearer for this instrumental ensemble.

Two of this Trio, David Finckel and Wu Han, are artistic directors of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, as well as founders and artistic directors of Music@Menlo (in Silicon Valley) and of Chamber Music Today, an annual festival held in Seoul, Korea. 4th LMMC appearance.

Program Notes

Beethoven’s first published music was a set of three trios for piano, violin and cello, which appeared in Vienna in 1795, though written several years earlier. He did not return to the piano trio for nearly thirteen years. The highly programmatic character of the Ghost Trio’s central movement, from which the work takes its name, is one significant indication that Beethoven was definitely moving in the direction of musical Romanticism. The eerie effects, mysterious rumblings, spectral aura, and bizarre notation (the latter evident only to those with scores) replete with thirty-second and sixty-fourth notes, seem to be derived from sketches Beethoven made for an abandoned opera based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a subject that vastly appealed to the Romantic age.

Dvořák wrote more than thirty chamber compositions, one of the most significant bodies of such music in the nineteenth century. The Piano Trio in F minor, composed in early 1883, ranks among the grandest works in his entire catalogue. It emanates a dark, urgent, defiant spirit, a quality ascribed partly to unhappy events in the composer’s private life. The Trio is written on a large, almost epic scale and lasts nearly 45 minutes in performance, making it as long as any of Dvořák’s symphonies. Although written for just three instruments, such are the Trio’s massive sonorities that it often sounds almost symphonic in concept.

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