for violin, cello and piano
If only because of its length (more than thirty minutes), my first piano trio might be called "grand." Grandeur, however, is surely less a matter of length than a question of character — here, an extravagant neo-romanticism. Accordingly, the work unfolds dramatically, demands the utmost virtuosity of its performers, and ultimately glories in largeness of gesture and immediacy of sentiment.
The violinist and cellist frame the first movement (Aria I) with two Herculean cadenzas, giving the work a concerto-like quality. In double octaves, they go on to sing a boisterous main theme, soon to be contrasted with a grazioso second theme featuring the piano. After energetic development of both themes, the second cadenza brings the movement to an unexpectedly quiet close.
Aria II, marked lento, is no less intense than Aria I. It is marked by a more sustained lyricism, tinged by disquietude and pain in the form of a throbbing note (F-flat) that permeates the texture.
The bravura Fuga that follows is the dramatic climax of the work. A slithering chromatic theme, first articulated in the violin, progresses inexorably through all three instruments. It develops intricately and extensively, hurtles towards a near-demonic finish...then vanishes.
The concluding Reminiscence is the calm that follows the storm. The first movement's energetic theme, now transformed, reveals a sweeter, more loving — more amabile — essence.
Begun during a sublime mid-August 2001 sojourn at the Rockefeller Foundation's Villa Serbelloni on Lake Como, my Grand Trio was completed back home in New York City three traumatic months later.
Inspired by the boldness, virtuosity, and open-heartedness of their playing, the Grand Trio was written for, and is dedicated to, the grandest trio I know — Joseph Kalichstein, Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson.