George Crumb Trio

Descriptions

Johann Sebastian Bach

Sonata in C-Major

This sonata has long been ascribed to Johann Sebastian Bach, but this has now been refuted by major critics. However, it seems to have been composed under his influence and may even been worked on by him. This seems to have been proven by the fact that both its movements are below the artistic level of the mature Bach, and yet it cannot be ranked among his earlier works, as he only started composing for the flute after moving to Koethen.

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Sonata in E-Major

Two authentic sonatas for flute and general bass have been composed by Johann Sebastian Bach – the sonata in e-minor and in E-Major, which have both only been preserved in copies. The earlier one, the e-minor, was most probably written in Koethen like the major part of his chamber music, whereas the E-Major was written for the Court of Potsdam, which Bach visited in 1741 and 1747.

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Sonata in e-minor

Two authentic sonatas for flute and general bass have been composed by Johann Sebastian Bach – the sonata in e-minor and in E-Major, which have both only been preserved in copies. The earlier one, the e-minor, was most probably written in Koethen like the major part of his chamber music, whereas the E-Major was written for the Court of Potsdam, which Bach visited in 1741 and 1747.

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Christian Bachner (born 1971)

The young Upper-Austrian jazz musician and composer wrote the piece “Two Faces” in three movements for the George Crumb Trio. It is characterized by the clearly audible influence of jazz and a brilliant rhythmic structure. The soft sound of the alto flute in the second movement conveys peace and tranquillity.

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Ludwig van Beethoven
Fourteen Variations in E flat-Major Op. 44

The Variations op. 44 (originally written for violin, cello and piano) are light, optimistic, energetic and full of enthusiasm. E flat gives a brightly shining impression, similar to that of the Magic Flute.
The two variation in minor (7 and 13) offer some darker tones, however without the depth usually found in Beethoven’s Adagios. It is due to Beethoven’s artistic creativity that each variation assumes a new character, while the theme is of harmonic simplicity and rhythmic precision. Variation No. 8. displays brilliant arrangements where flute and cello form a congenial partner to the melodious movements of the piano. The last variation, composed in fast 6/8 rhythm, brings the piece to a brilliant end.

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Pierre André Bovey
*17.10.1942

was born in Lausanne. He studied the flute with André Bossard in Bern, and André Jaunet at the Conservatory of Zurich. Later he studied composition and counterpoint with Rolf Looser.
Pierre-André Bovey now devotes his time both to teaching at the Conservatory of Bern and to composing.
He also conducts the flute ensemble “Intercity Flute Players”.

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Florian Bramboeck

1st movement: Schubert at Vera’s
Franz Schubert has been invited to Vera Russwurm’s talk show, in order to promote his new musical comedy Rosamunde. Vera had also come to know that he had already written about 400 songs. …..Schubert gets dressed, Franz von Schober picks him up, they enter the ORF-building (Austrian Broadcasting Corp.) in good humour and go straightaway to the cafeteria. They sit there until an impatient producer comes and tells them to hurry up. She does that in such a clumsy way that Schubert decides not to appear in the show, asks Schober to inform the producer…… they both walk home again, not without stopping in a pub…… in the end Schubert is at home, changes into more comfortable clothes and continues composing….

2nd movement: Beethoven in the computer store
Beethoven, the Titan, goes into a computer store and wants to look into a programme for writing music, gets annoyed that it is called Sibelius, finds himself overwhelmed by compliments from the salesman and starts working. He has the various characteristic experiences common to all the computer novices – but in reality this piece is nothing but Beethoven shaking his head unwillingly.

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Chick Corea
Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano

A prodigiously talented pianist and keyboard player, Chick Corea has mastered most genres of jazz piano and has also performed parts of the classical repertoire, notably Mozart piano concerti. He is a gifted composer, having written several standards including his best-known hit Spain, but also covering stylistic territory as wide-ranging as that of his playing: from jazz, to fusion, to Latin music, to orchestral and chamber works.
About the Trio he writes: ” This trio was my first attempt to write a kind of chamber music. At that time, I thought that ” chamber music” was just written music played acoustically but with no drums. It has since become one of my favourite forms of music” . This piece is rich in colour, rhythmically thrilling and differentiated. In the final move the pianist mutes the piano strings and creates a drum-like impression. Chick Corea’s own recording of the piece appears on his CD “Inner Space”.

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Harry Crowl

Imagens Rupestres makes reference to the cave paintings found in the area of Lagoa Santa, not far from Belo Horizonte, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. They were discovered by the Danish naturalist Dr.Lund, in the 1st half of the19th century. The two main ones are Lapinha and Maquiné. The music goes as a journey into the depths of these grottos. 4 different types of flutes are used: – piccolo, flute, bass flute and octobass (or double bass) flute. They go along with the cello’s range that is widely explored, as well as the piano’s. The deeper the sound goes, the deeper into the grottos. On the return to the surface, light starts to be seen again. Inside those caves, there are many colours and contours that are widely explored in the music.

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George Crumb (born 1929)

Has always stayed aloof from contemporary streams, writing down only what he hears, which results in very expressive, music close to nature. Crumb writes lyrically and beautifully, the roots of which are coming from the Romantic and Impressionistic music.
“Vox balanae”, too, reflects his relationship with nature. In nine parts, time is portrayed from the beginning ( Vocalise….. for the beginning of time) to the end (Sea Nocturne…..for the end of time).
The title means “The voice of the whale” – the whale, which for Crumb is synonymous with nature at its purest. Life begins in water and ends in water – that is why the piece is performed with blue stage lighting. The musicians wear masks to obscure any personal expression, because nature is the centre of attention in this piece, and not man.

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Doug Hammond
“Gathering Spirits”

This piece of music was composed for the George Crumb Trio with the hope that musical spirits would be called upon to gather all possible inner-movements toward a helpful, gracious, positive and compassionate outcome for this new century: A BIG wish!

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Joseph Haydn
Trio in D-Major, Hob. XV:16

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) is the composer of three wonderful trios for flute, cello and piano, the first of which was composed in 1790 and ranks among the best of Haydn’s chamber music. The trio is vivacious and bright, full of energy and joy.
The first movement is full of virtuosity but shows unexpected contrasts – sudden variations into minor key and rhythmic changes give the movement life. The development gives the movement a rather special balance through its particular length.
The second movement is wonderfully instrumented and reminds us of Haydn’s orchestral works. Pizzicato in the cello, fast moves in the piano carried by quiet eighths in flute and cello give the movement special colour.
The last movement has the form of a free rondo. The periods in contrasting keys, are in opposition to the playful main theme and the movement ends on an energetic note, just like a finale in the orchestra.

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Trio in G-Major, Hob.XV:15

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) is the composer of three wonderful trios for flute, cello and piano, the second of which was written in 1790 and seems to be the most “classical” of the three trios.
As is often the case with Haydn, the first movement was composed in 4/4 time and has a rhythmically precise marching style. The dialogue between the instruments makes the movement uncomplicated and entertaining. Harmonies play a subordinate role in this movement – it is the rhythm that is of the essence.
The second movement is in 6/8 time, almost like a siciliano with its quiet, wave-like rhythm. The motif is first presented in the piano and goes through many variations both in figure and harmonies. The middle part is in C-minor and lends the otherwise rather serene movement a dark note.
The third movement shows the form of the free rondo and belongs among Haydn’s most energetic movements. The principal theme moves upwards in the piano and is at once taken up by the other instruments and elaborated on. The final movement ends the humorous movement on a typical pedal point.

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Trio in F-Major, Hob. XV:17

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) is the composer of three wonderful trios for flute, cello and piano. The third one was written in 1790 and differs from the others insofar as it consists of only two movements. However, the trio is in no way incomplete – the two movements are in full balance with each other. The first movement is allegro, but with a relatively quiet pulse – so there are fast passages carried by the quiet quarter- notes.
The second movement – Tempe di Menuetto – is harmonically balanced and there is no potential for conflict. The world seems in order, and Haydn exPresss this with perfect formal balance.

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Katherine Hoover

Her works are ranked among the most frequently performed in America and she also has a great audience in Europe. The music is rhythmic and vivacious and reminds the listener of the tonal language of Bartok and Bernstein.
The first and last movements are rather fast, and the third part consists of large unisono passages with flute, cello and piano alternating quickly. Only part II, called “Serenade”, offers the listener time to relax.

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Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778 – 1837)

was born in Bratislava. He studied the piano with Mozart and had, just like him, a great career as child prodigy. From 1804 to 1811 he was director of music for the Duchy of Esterhazy, and from 1819 onwards at the Royal Court in Weimar. His music is influenced by Mozart’s, and yet he managed to find his own style, rooting in the early romantic tradition. While the piano is his main focus, he also wrote chamber music, orchestral works, sacred music and three operas.
The Trio op. 78 for flute, cello and piano is typical of Hummel’s mature works showing all its romantic emotionalism. It is a virtuous and colourful piece with the piano playing a central role. The first movement, named “Cantabile”, reminds the listener of an operatic aria, with flute and cello carrying the melody, accompanied by a subdued piano. The second movement has its own theme borrowed from traditional folk music. In seven variations Hummel shows incredible creativity, from Beethoven-like figures to a brilliant culmination in the final variation.

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Norman dello Joio

His powerful trio enables the individual instruments to present themselves. The rhythmic first and third movement leave plenty of room for musical communication, the second one moves from tenderness to greatness and ends in lucid clarity. The harmonic texture of this trio shows the influence of Paul Hindemith, his teacher.

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Rudolf Jungwirth

The name “Hymnos” denotes a song of praise to a deity.
The first part is based on an early Christian hymn, dating back to the third century and found in fragments on papyrus in Oxyrynchos ( Egypt). Gong- nd bell-like sounds from the prepared piano, tender Flageolet- and low cymbal tones characterize this peaceful movement.
The second hymn is an homage to the deeply religious Oliver Messiaen and the music reflecting his beliefs. Colourful chords, bird voices and varied rhythms fill the short, ecstatic piece without really quoting Messiaen. A quiet final statement ends on a questioning note.
Hymnos III is characterized by the resounding motif “b-a-c-h” and the initials of Alfred Schnittkes “a-s(es=e flat)”, whose transpositions play a great role in all “Treis Hymnoi” . The conclusion touches the other side of what is hymn-like, and dark tones of hesitation and despair bring doubts and needs to the surface.

The composition Mandorla (2003) for flute, cello and piano is based on Paul Celan’s poem , indeed, it was inspired by it. It was preceded by a piece for choir, cello, organ, tubular bells and tam-tam, which originated in the same year and is a setting of the very same text.
Mandorla (the Italian word for almond) means the almond-shaped halo surrounding the figure of Christ that is found on many old painting to indicate the state of transcendence. The form of the composition is symmetric.
It is the fourth piece in this orchestration that Rudolph Jungwirth has written

Mandorla (Paul Celan)
In the almond—what stands in the almond?
The Nothing.
In the almond stands Nothing.
There it stands and stands.
In the Nothing—who stands there? The King.
There stands the King, the King.
There he stands and stands.
Jewish curls, no grey for you.
And your eye—whereto stands your eye?
Your eye stands opposite the almond.
Your eye, the Nothing it stands opposite.
It stands by the King.
So it stands and stands.
Human curls, no grey for you.
Empty almond, kingly blue.

Translation © 2001 by John Felstiner.

A visit to the caves and the paleolithic cave paintings of the Perigord (Southern France) gave rise to the nine pieces “au-sanctuaire”, where the mystique of former places of worship and the immersion into the magic world found their expression in this composition. The instrumentation of the ensemble is enhanced by various archaic sounds. Hissing, humming, and whistling, as well as primitive whirling boards and rainsticks are used.

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Friedrich Kuhlau,

Kuhlau wrote about 200 pieces for flute, of which 96 have been preserved. All the others were destroyed in a fire which, as rumour has it, might have been set by Kuhlau himself.
The Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano, consisting of three movements, is without doubt one of the most beautiful of his works. It also exists in a version for two flutes and piano.

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Bernhard Lang (born 1957)
Differenz/ Wiederholung 1 (difference and repetition 1)

The head is the organ of exchange,
but the heart is the amorous organ of repetition.”
G.Deleuze

This piece, the first one of a new series, was encouraged by the George Crumb Trio and is inspired by Martin Arnold’s aesthetics. Its theme is the play upon the different repetitions, the recurring differences, all written down in the form of notated improvisation: forms found, put into focus through repetition, forever moving between being forgotten and being rediscovered.

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Bohuslav Martinu (1890 – 1954)

The “Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano” is amongst the most impressive ones that Martinu has composed. With rather simple means this piece shows power and intensity, joy and virtuosity.
Although somewhat unpredictable harmonic movements are found between the different parts, the piece remains tonal. The inspiration gained from the folk music of his home country, combined with impressions from Bartok and Stravinsky give it gripping rhythmic strength.

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Felix Mendelsohn-Bartholdy (1809 – 1847)

After the publication of the Klaviertrio op. 49 in spring 1848 with Breitkopf und Haertel (Leipzig), the composer mentioned in a letter to Moscheles that the London publisher Ewer had asked for a version for flute instead of for the violin. Mendelsohn first considered editing the middle movements andante and scherzo as a piece of their own, entitled “Andante and Rondo”, but then left the decision to the publisher. JJ Ewer & Co soon published the complete piece with alternative flute, noting: “This Trio is also arranged for pianoforte, flute and cello by the author“. So we can safely assume that this second version, hitherto of rather little regard, was either written by the composer himself or authorised by him. The alterations are too ingenious, too clever to be considered routine works of a copyist employed by the publisher. They put this popular piece into totally new light.

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W. A. Mozart ( 1757 – 1791)

His works for piano trio cover a quarter of a century , stretching from “Six sonatas for piano, Violin or Flute, and Cello” written for Queen Charlotte Sophie of England when he was eight years old, to the Divertimento performed today, composed 1776 in Salzburg, to the great trios of his Viennese period (1787 – 1788).
If the pieces of his early period were piano sonatas accompanied by a melody and bass instrument, then the violin (flute) already developed full individuality in the Divertimento KV 254 and the cello still had bass function. Only in his 5 later trios were all the instruments given equality.
The core of the Divertimento in B Major is, without doubt, the expressive Adagio framed by two brilliantly virtuoso dance-like movements.

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Gabriel Pierne (1863 – 1937)

French composer, organist and conductor. He studied with Massenet and Ravel, and yet managed to develop his own style and his own tonal language. Pierne, a brilliant composer wrote almost any kind of music – Orchestra music, chamber music, vocal music, eight operas and ten ballets and some other music form various occasions for various ensembles.
The trio “Sonata da Camera” for flute, cello and piano is a vivacious piece in three movements. It is rhythmically concise, shows surprising harmonic moves, thus demonstrating the outstanding musicality of Pierne.
Just like Debussy, Pierne also employed old forms. The three movements are called Prelude, Sarabande and Finale and form a musical unity to great effect. The piece was written in 1927 and dedicated to the French flutist Louis Fleury.

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Bob Priest
Caboose 999

Caboose
last of the long
rides glint to spark
pushes the parallel
that meets
and never meets
is as much a travelling towards
as what is
left behind
long after the
last
(Clare Sykes)

“Caboose 999 was the last piece written in the previous century, and is part five of a six part cycle, which is paying tribute to the influence of Jimi Hendrix on my life and work. At the age of 15, Jimi’s music was more important than the influence of Crumb, my studies with Messiaen, and later studies with Lutoslawski in Warsaw. The first 15 seconds of Jimi’s “Foxy Lady” form the basis for a large part of my work. Here, in this short excerpt, we discover or hear a rather complex groups of parameters all leading towards the crescendo. Just like in the overlay transparencies found in an anatomy book, Caboose 999 can be listened to in individual chunks or all at once. The enjoyment of listening will be much enhanced by following the dream signs of the listener. Bon voyage…”

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Maurice Ravel

Ravel ranks among the most important composers in the history of music. His works have long been standard repertoire. His songs are among the lesser known, but it is particularly among them that the harmonic refinement and sensitive tone colour make themselves heard.
The “Chansons Madecasse”, for the singing voice, flute, cello and piano were written to the poems of Evariste Parny, a poet of the rococo inspired by the tropical world. Ravel himself writes in his autobiography “…the Chansons Madecasse seem to introduce a new dramatic, even erotic element, brought on by Parny’s poems. In this kind of quartet the voice performs the main part. There is a dominating simplicity, an independence which is found even stronger in the violin sonata.” The three songs portray different characters. The first is a nocturne, a desire for love with strong erotic undertones, the second a triumph over the European intruders and conquerors. The third song praises the tranquillity found in the cool evening breeze.

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Radanovic, Michael
Jottet down/auf NOTI(e)RT

This is a piece in seven movements for flute, cello and piano. The movements with the uneven numbers (main parts) have been given names: “A Song”, “A March”, “Fantasinfugionetta”, “ Introduction, ballad and Rock’n Roll”. Those with even numbers are intermezzos with connecting character. They are both reminiscence/ echo/ reflection of the preceding, as well as premonition/ expectation/ and anticipation of following movement.
“The essence of the music that I lived with as an adolescent forms the foundation of the musical material used there (rock, pop, jazz, but also classical music),and I have tried with today’s techniques to put them together in a new way so as to find a fitting, modern form of expression.”
The title of the piece refers, on the one hand, to the trio TRITON (read from right to left: NOTIRT), and on the other hand to a passage from Bob Dylan’s “Mighty Quinn”.

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Hannes Raffaseder,
in Stille – Aufschrei!
Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano

“The idea for the second movement „Aufschrei! (Outcry!) goes back to an improvisation made after attending a concert with modern music, which I noted down on the computer. It was one of those concerts in which I felt that the intention of the composer to be “new” led to tenseness rather than anything else. Everything was terribly serious. Admittedly, a lot was very interesting – but very little was joyful, humorous, playful…… In some inner outcry I tried to let my playful instincts roam freely and just have joy in music.
Weeks later I analysed the ideas I had noted down in the computer, reshaped them, put them together anew, completed them – this material formed the second movement.
After that, I composed the first movement “In Stille” (In Silence) to form a contrast – “sound” instead of pulsating rhythm, quiet, fragile tones instead of loud, sharp chords, short, melodious phrases instead of bubbling runs.
And I did all that to question myself. Contrasts and questions keep me moving, (self)assurance leads to a stagnation. “ (Hannes Raffaseder, May 2000)

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Hannes Raffaseder,
“ausKLANG”

“This piece has been composed for the George Crumb Trio, which also staged its first performance. After the trio “in Stille – AUFSCHREI!”, composed about a year prior, this is my second piece written for these instruments.
“ausKLANG” (fading sound) – the title already gives away my compositional intentions – to write a piece in which sound plays the central role. This is nothing special in itself, however, rather unusual for me as in previous works my main focus had been on rhythmic or melodic development.
The title also holds the noun “Ausklang” in the sense of resonance, echo. The fading out of sounds, more or less slowly, within a certain space, leads to overlapping, to a blurring of melodies….everything strives towards an end, but nothing ends abruptly. The echo falls silent slowly, often only when something new has already filled the room.
“ausKLANG” also goes well with the season in which it was written (late summer, autumn) : bright colours, diffuse light. The last few warm days….
Within this framework I have written the piece very intuitively, without conscious consideration of any compositional theories and the like. (This, by the way is rather typical for my style.). It is almost like a “frozen improvisation”…. the performers are asked to freely feel the music.
“Quietly flowing, tenderly moved, searching – shortly quick-tempered – following the sound.””

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Anton Reicha (1770 . 1836)

His chamber music works concentrate mainly on woodwind instruments, especially the flute. This is not surprising, considering that in his youth he was flautist in the “Kurfuerstliches Orchester” during his years in Bonn. It was in those days that he made acquaintance with Beethoven, and this friendship lasted right up to Reicha’s later years in Vienna, even though he was at times somewhat critical of Beethoven’s music. Reicha is therefore stylistically rather a classical successor of Haydn.
Towards the end of 1808 he finally settled in Paris, and it is here that he composed his famous Woodwind Quintets (op. 88, 91, 99, 100), which are rightly regarded as the best of their genre. Unfortunately one of Reicha’s main concerns was never realized – he could not secure a more prominent position for the wind instruments in music.
The Grand Quartuor Concertante for Piano, Flute (Violin), Bassoon (Cello) and Cello in E flat , op. 104, of 1824 is of special importance, not only because of its unusual combination of instruments, but because it is to be considered one of the last culminating points in Reicha’s activities as a composer of chamber music.

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Ned Rorem

Was born in Indiana, USA in 1923 and studied at the Julliard School of Music with Virgil Thomson. Rorem ranks among the most productive American composers and his works are frequently performed. His collection of works comprises music of all genres; 4 piano concerts, three symphonies, six operas, several hundred songs, many works for theatre, chamber music works and 14 books. From 1949 to 1958 Rorem lived in Paris and the inspiration he gained in Europe is unmistakable. His style are greatly influenced by composers such as Bartok and Hindemith, but the tonality is still very personal and characterized by great creativity.
The Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano is marked by a concentration on the theme and great contrasts. The first movement starts with a slow “Misterioso” – the flute plays a free solo on the dark chords of the piano and the cello.
The main movement is energetic, almost brutal in character with an immense rhythmic energy. In harmonies and musical gestures this second movement reminds the listener of Bartok. The scattered figures come short of the limits of the instruments, and the dynamics reach from the most subdued pianissimo to the strongest fortissimo. The third movement starts with a slow cello solo, and is as quiet as the second movement is dramatic. The fourth movement links up with the first one before driving the piece to an end full of virtuosity and rhythmic power.

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