Trio Solisti at Maverick

Some of my fondest summer music memories over the years have taken place at Maverick Concerts in Woodstock, and I gladly continue to accrue even more there. I spent a charming (as always) Sunday afternoon at the Maverick, attending this time, a concert by Trio Solisti. I got there early as I usually do, to assure a good spot on the waiting line, hence assuring a good seat in the concert hall. I won’t say how early I got there (in most situations it would be considered shamefully early, but when it comes to certain musicians or groups, Trio Solisti being one of the latter, I have no shame), although I wasn’t the first person there. Okay, so ONE other person was already there, but somehow that made me feel better. Apparently I’m not the only crazed music lover out there, which is reassuring.

Three soloists, all brilliant musicians in their own right, form Trio Solisti. They travel all over the world together, gracing audiences with their passion, technique, and spirit. With Maria Bachmann on violin, Alexis Pia Gerlach on cello, and Jon Klibonoff on piano, Trio Solisti is among the finest of piano trio’s heard anywhere in the world today. I just love them. Okay, so I’m still glowing from the program selection…


Nocturne D. 897 (Op. posth. 148 )                                                  Franz Schubert


Piano Trio in A Minor                                                                             Maurice Ravel
Pantoun (Assez vif)
Final (Anime)


Pictures at an Exhibition                                                                      Modest Mussorgsky
                                                                                                               Arranged by Jon Klibonoff

Promenade – Gnomus – Promenade – Il Vecchio Castello – Promenade – Tuileries – Bydlo Promenade – Ballet of Chickens in Their Shells – Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle – Promenade – Market Place at Limoges – Roman Catacombs – Promenade – The Hut on Chicken’s Legs – The Great Gate of Kiev


Schubert’s Nocturne is in fact the slow movement from a piano trio, although no-one alive today can be sure which one it belongs to (it wasn’t published while Schubert was alive, and became Opus posthumous 148 ). It is an enchanting, if all too brief… The piece begins sleepily, still full of soft dreams. All at once, the music wakes, and becomes brighter and, dare I say it, nostalgic. But in a way that, although makes you think back fondly with a smile in your heart, also begs you to look to the future with the same contentment. The music then quiets down, sinking back into a half-wakeful state. This duality continues, back and forth, returning to the brightness time and time again, with mist ridden interludes floating in between. The piece ends by returning to the dreams of the beggining, the dreams of eternity… Sorta like life. You end back where you begin.

As for Maurice Ravel, his music and my heart have an ongoing love affair. I have loved Ravel’s music from the first time I heard it, and every time I hear it I fall more and more in love. The Ravel piano trio that Trio Solisti played opens with a magical intro by the piano, before violin and cello join. It is a startlingly exquisite work, and holds unspoken longing. It also has a franticness, as the violin and cello race through the bars of music, as though trying to evade the inevitable. Perhaps Ravel’s nod the the impending outbreak of World War I… Eventually all is caught up, and the three instruments play in sad, slow harmony. In Pantoun (Assez vif), the second movement, the phrases are quite different. They are very short, and create an unsettling, but fascinating mood that draws you in. The third movement, Passacaille, opens with piano. The cello then joins, playing a heartwrenching melody. As the melody is taken up by violin, the cello rests. The music is not solid, but vaporous. If you reached out to try to touch it, it would dissapear, yet it moves one more than imaginable… I weep every time I hear that particular piano trio played, especially during the third movement. For the fourth movement, Final (Anime), the music lightens up a bit. It is simply grand, and holds boundless excitement for the listener. Am I gushing? Well, as I said, my heart and Ravel’s music have an ongoing love affair, one that is full of passion and excitement. 

Pictures at an Exhibition was originally written by Mussorgsky for solo piano, although Ravel – speaking of the genius – arranged a version of the work for orchestra which might very well be more popular than the original. The piece indeed lends itself well to stringed instruments, and the version Trio Solisti played on Sunday was arranged for piano trio by Jon Klibonoff, the pianist for Trio Solisti. Modest Mussorgsky was inspired to write the piece after viewing an exhibit of watercolors that his friend Victor Herrmann painted (although Victor Hermann died prior to the music’s creation). The music decribes to the listener different paintings that Mussorgsky saw at the exhibition. Unfortunately, not all of the paintings have survived through time (Victor Hermann died in 1873, and Pictures at an Exhibition was written in 1874), so although some actual visuals can be matched to the music, some are unknown. Pictures at an Exhibition opens with Promenade, or the main theme, which is heard throughout the work. The “paintings” of music are all quite different from one another. Some are darkly thrilling, some playful… All the while the Promenade goes through different changes. The piece is brought to a close with The Great Gate of Kiev, during which the Promenade theme returns for the last time. It is fiercly played with increasing tension. Crashing notes of music sink deeper and deeper, then climb sky high, as the glorious final re-capitulation brings the music to an end.

I love Maverick, I love Trio Solisti, I love all three pieces that were played, but most of all, I loved hearing Trio Solisti play the three pieces at Maverick Concert Hall. And so another wonderful music memory at Maverick was stored in my mind. It’s getting full in there, and the Maverick season is not yet over! I’ll be there on both Saturday and Sunday this coming weekend. Early, so I can wait in line for a good seat again…


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