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My Music, Multiplyidea Co. Ltd.
Live 10.04.2005
Tonmeister: Micky Yang
National Concert Hall, Taipei, Taiwan

Mendelssohn Piano Trio

Ya-Ting Chang, piano
Peter Sirotin, violin
Fiona Thompson, cello

Tom Benjamin - Aperitif for piano trio (1983)

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) - Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 101
    I.   Allegro energico
    II.  Presto non assai
    III. Andante grazioso
    IV. Allegro molto
Taiwanese Folk Songs Arrangements

    I.   Teh Pale Moon
    II.  June Field
    III. Sunset Homeland
    IV. Ballad of Four Seasons

Peter I. Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) - Piano Trio in A Minor, Op. 50
    I.   Pezzo elegiaco: Moderato assai; Allegro giusto
    II.  Theme and Variations



Composer Tom Benjamin, a native of Bennington, Vermont, received degrees in composition from Bard College, Harvard University, Brandeis University, and the Eastman School of Music. His teachers were Leon Kirchner, Carlos Surinach, Ernst Krenek, Arthur Berger, and Bernard Rogers. More than sixty of Benjamin’s works have been published; they include concertos for violin, piano, and viola; symphonies; oratorios; cantatas; and six operas. He is the author of two books on counterpoint and the coauthor of three music theory texts. The many awards and commissions he has received include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Society of Composers and Publishers, Meet-the-Composer, and the Barlow Foundation. Active as a clarinetist and choral conductor, Benjamin has taught at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan, the University of Houston, and the Peabody Institute, where he was chair of the music theory department. His lighthearted piano trio, Apéritif, was commissioned by the Mirecourt Trio. Intended as a concert opener, it displays both the virtuoso and the expressive possibilities of the three instruments. The structure resembles a rondo and the musical language is frankly tonal. Tom Benjamin

The Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in C Minor, Op. 101 of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), was composed in 1886 on the same summer vacation in Thun, Switzerland. From the correspondence of this period, we know that his friends generally greeted the trio with approval, in some cases expressing great enthusiasm for it. Clara Schumann, a lifelong friend, and perhaps Brahms’s most valued critic, felt that she had seldom been so affected by any of his previous works. The astonishingly interwoven texture and forceful, yet intimate quality of the work, so characteristic of all Brahms’s chamber music, still has the same emotional appeal today. The main interest of the opening movement, Allergro energico, lies in the close-knit nature of the way in which it is knit together. A “fierce” opening theme is matched by a “consoling-noble” second theme, which reappears near the end of the movement in a major key. The second movement, Presto non-assai, is another example of the shadowy C minor type, with muted strings, functioning as a scherzo movement. The second subject is so brief that we scarcely know it is there before the restless opening theme returns and scurries to and end. The third movement, Andante grazioso, is for stings alone, alternating with the piano. Plucked stings accompany the piano in its meandering path. A unique feature of this movement, according to Swafford, is the extraordinary metric experiment of constantly changing time signatures, which may betray Hungarian origin. The final movement, Allegro molto, comes to violent life with great leaps and handfuls of chords and arpeggios in the piano. According to critic Ivor Keys, this makes the trio a real physical pleasure of a pianist to play. It is interesting from a marketing standpoint to note that Brahms and Simrock (hispublisher) felt that music like this was not outside the scope of enough amateur music-lovers to make publication worthwhile. There is a concluding turn to C major. Brahms’s friend, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, and her husband both praised this trio highly. Her husband Heinrich wrote his wife: “your big paw comes down heavily with the very opening of the Finale, however, and one sees stars, and begins to count the slain; at least, it nearly proved the death of my wife, that stormy semi quaver passage in particular … and finally the tremendous jubilations where the rhythm would not come right – not that it matters!”Louis J. ReithGeorgetown University Library

Four Taiwanese Folk Songs

The Pale Moon
Lyric: Yei, Jin-Lin Composer: Wu, Jin-Wei, Arranged by Masaaki Hayakawa

No matter how beautiful you are, I am no longer in love with you. Everything about you stirs up my sorrow and unhappiness no matter how much the wind of spring tries to ease my sorrow. It cannot sooth my hate. It is again a pale moon night.

No matter what you say to me or how you treat me, I have seen through your heart, your fakeness, and your unreal love. My tears of true love were wasted, and no matter where faith brings me, my sorrow will never disappear. I am again in the ocean of troubles.

June Field
Composed by Chien, Shan-Jen, Arranged by Masaaki Hayakawa
This song describes the hot month of June, when the temperature of water in the farm field keeps rising up. The water snakes and other little water beings in the farm field are trying to swim deep into holes at the bottom of the field to avoid the direct sun in their desire to survive. The farmers see how these water snakes and fishes swim with all their energy to find a safe place, and they sing: “Water in the June field, it is burning! Water snake in the water, working hard to wiggle its tail to swim!” They sing this song, when they are tired to help them working hard like the water snake so they can have good harvest and survive the hard year.

Sunset of Homeland
Lyric: Hsia, Wen Composer: Huang, Chung-Yuai, Arranged by Tienhao Jan
This is a song expressing one’s strong feeling of missing the family and sceneries of homeland.
Calling me, calling me, sunset of my homeland is calling me. Calling my worn out body and mind. Traveling person is like a homeless bird, coming to a foreign land alone, always missing home. I heard it today again, the call of my homeland.
Calling me, calling me, sunset of my homeland is calling me. Missing the scene of the homeland when I left. Moonlight spreads onto the river, mountains, streams, and always hugs my dream. Tonight, I dreamt of the call of my homeland again.
Calling me, calling me, sunset of my homeland is calling me, and its call is full of sadness and tears. This call for me to return home has never stopped. The white clouds, if you go, please bring along my thoughts and feelings, bring them to my mother. Please do not forget.

Four Seasons
Lyric: Den, Yu-Hsien, Composer: Lee, Lin-Chu, Arranged by Tienhao Jan

O, flowers of spring, full of fragrance! Couples’ hearts are pounding. I have something to tell you, if I may. What is it? What do you think it is? Couple has smiles in their eyes. Oh, you and I are red love flowers of spring.

O, wind of the summer, wistful and light. Couple is on the boat to Tour River. I have something to tell you, if I may? What is it? What do you think it is? Our love is like the red reflection of the sun in the depth of the river.

O, moon of the autumn, shining though the window. Couple has hope in their heart to be together forever. I have something to tell you, if I may? What is it? What do you think it is? All I can see are your red lips.

O, wind of the winter, so hard to avoid. Couple in love is not afraid of cold. I have something to tell you, if I may? What is it? What do you think it is? The fire of our love is so full of life that it is red.

Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was staying in Nice, France, in 1881 when he received a telegram informing him of the death of his friend and compatriot, Nikolai Grigorevich Rubinstein (1835-1881), in Paris on 23 March. An outstanding pianist and distinguished conductor, Nikolai Rubinstein had offered Tchaikovsky a teaching position at the newly opened Conservatory of St. Petersburg in 1866, and during the years that the composer held the post, Rubinstein had encouraged and supported him. He was so devastated in March 1881 that he ceased work entirely until December, and then began work on a Trio for Piano, Violin, and Cello in A minor, Op. 50, inscribed “To the memory of a great artists.”Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio is a large-scale work in two sections. He started composing it in December 1881 and completed it on the 13 of January 1882. The first movement, in sonata form, is marked Pezzo elegiaco [Elegiac piece]. And that it is, melancholy, yet warm and passionate, filled with broad and lovely melodies. The wistful opening theme is first played by the cello, followed by the violin and the piano. Sorrow is expressed in a Chopinesque funeral march, and with the use of a question-and-answer dialogue among the instruments. Dramatic contrast also plays an important role in the restless and driving passages which are followed by moments of relaxation and relief. The second movement is comprised of two sections. The first, Thema con varizaione [Them with variations], begins tentatively with a folk-like theme. There are eleven variations of the theme, which is introduced by the piano. In the first variation, the violin presents the theme, followed by variation two, where the cello sings the theme. If you think that you are hearing what sounds like a “scherzo” by the piano, punctuated by pizzacato from the strings, you are in the third variation. If the theme is played in the minor mode, you are in the fourth variation. If you think you hear what sounds like a music box, you are in the fifth variation. After an introduction of repeated notes by the cello, the group breaks into an elegant waltz. The piano belts out chords to start the seventh variation, punctuated by the strings. Variation eight is a contrapuntal fugue, leading to the ninth variation, marked Andante flibile [plaintive, mourning]. After a lively Marzurka (the tenth variation), the first part of the movement ends with a quiet recapitulation of the opening theme. The finale, marked Variazione finale e coda, is in effect the twelfth and final variation on this theme. After a festive and jubilant development, the mood suddenly changes, as if the composer is suddenly brought back to his pain at the loss of his friend. The melancholy opening theme returns, as the mood deepens and darkens. This gives way to a solemn funeral march, and the elegiac melody, which opened the work, comes to an end, poco a poco morendo [dying out, little by little]. Louis J. ReithGeorgetown University Library

©  by Mendelssohn Piano Trio since Dec. 1999
Last Update: August 12, 2023