Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Trimavera Piano Trio performs at the Felicja Blumental Music Center in Tel Aviv

The Trimavera Piano Trio performed at the Felicja Blumental Music Center (Tel Aviv) July 18th, 2011. Members of the trio are pianist Batia Murvitz, violinist Lea Tuuri (Finland) and ‘cellist Lauri Rantamoijanen (Finland).

Batia Murvitz (b.1982, London) has degrees from the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music (Tel Aviv) and Indiana University. She performs in Israel and abroad, has recorded for the Voice of Israel classical music station, performed in the “Youth at the Center” concerts at the Jerusalem Music Center and has appeared on Israeli television. Her work has included playing for workshops of the Israel Opera. Performing with several chamber music players, Murvitz is also a member of the “Sine Qua Non” Ensemble, together with violinist Helena Madoka-Berg, clarinetist Uriel Vanchestein and ‘cellist Se-Du Park. As of April 2010, Ms. Murvitz has been a member of faculty of the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation, Mumbai.

Lea Tuuri (b.1985, Finland) began violin lessons at age five, later studying at Indiana University and the New England Conservatory. She is presently completing an M.Mus at the Sibelius Academy. She has performed in the USA, Israel, England, France and Italy, participates in master classes and has recorded for MTV3 and the Finnish Broadcasting Company. She plays on a Jean Baptiste Vuillame violin with a Noel Burke bow.

Lauri Rantamoijanen (b.1985, Finland) began ‘cello studies at age seven, moving on to the youth department of the Sibelius Academy, where he later began the performing artists’ program in 2005. He was a young soloist with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2003 and Finnish finalist in the Eurovision Young Soloists. He is currently studying at the Sibelius Academy under Professor Martti Rousi. An active chamber musician, Rantamoijanen plays in several ensembles. He plays on a Francesco Ruggiero ‘cello, dated 1693.

The concert opened with Franz Schubert’s (1797-1828) Piano Trio in B flat major D28 (Sonatensatz), a single-movement work composed in 1812. Schubert had been a chorister in the Court chapel, and, with his voice breaking, he had written on a choral score “Schubert, Franz, krähte zum letzten Mal” (has crowed for the last time) 26 Juli, 1812”. Schubert had now become a pupil of court Kapellmeister Antonio Salieri, the result being a flow of compositions, many of them since lost. The Sonatensatz, the teenage composer’s first attempt at writing music for piano and strings, reveals the young composer’s potential with moments of beauty and interest. As to the evening’s program, the best was yet to come.

Prominent and award-winning composer Kelly-Marie Murphy (b.1964), one of Canada’s most frequently performed, writes music ranging from orchestral- to electroacoustic music, as well as much chamber music. Commissioned by the Gryphon Trio (Canada) in 1997, “Give Me Phoenix Wings to Fly” was inspired by the Phoenix myth as addressed in two poems. One is Keats’ poem “On Sitting Down to Read King Leah Once Again”:
‘But when I am consumed in the fire,
Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.’
The other poem is Robert Graves’ “To Bring the Dead to Life”:
‘Blow on a dead man’s embers
And a live flame will start.’
Kelly-Marie Murphy writes “I’ve always been intrigued by the myth of the Phoenix, a bird that immolates in fire and then rises up again from its own ashes. It is such a powerful image, and one which is relevant to disaster. No matter how devastating any single event might be, you can still recover and begin again.’

A work in three movements, “Give me Phoenix Wings to Fly” opens with untiring, driving rhythms peppered with heavily accented clusters. In the second movement, with the dense textures and virtuosic, fiery scene of the first movement left far behind, the piano sets up a drone (a somewhat tonal center), creating a transparently icy and eerie soundsape, against which violin and ‘cello each play expressively. As if a single voice emerging from a lifeless vista, the ‘cello then leads into the third movement with a quasi cadenza, and we find ourselves back in the unrelenting intense, demonic energy heard in the first movement. A somewhat programmatic piece, it can be enjoyed as absolute music. The Trimavera musicians performed this demanding and highly virtuosic work with oneness of spirit, its dramatic, evocative text finding a communicative voice within themselves, its performance creating a gripping, live-music experience.

At the age of 21, Johannes Brahms’ (1833-1897) published his Trio no. 1 in B major opus 8. Fiercely self-critical, the composer had burned all his previously composed chamber works. In 1890, close to the end of his creative life, having written all his symphonies and concertos, Brahms decided to revise the trio, shortening it significantly, yet leaving its original form and moods intact. “I did not provide it with a new wig” he wrote, “just combed and arranged its hair a little”. Significantly, the Trio in B major represents both the young Brahms at the beginning of his public career and the maturity of the elder Brahms.

Despite its “official” B major key, the work, in its many moments of dark brooding, gravitates naturally to minor keys. In the lengthy, restless first movement, the Trimavera players create a mellow canvas, swelling into richly-colored Romantic textures that are melodically and harmonically expressive. In the duality of the trio’s scoring, with the piano part carrying half the tonal weight, Batia Murvitz displays plenty of strength, juxtaposing Brahms’ thick piano textures with those of the strings as she leads her fellow players through the score in a manner that never oversteps the bounds of good taste. In the poignant Adagio movement, Murvitz sets the scene, giving a little extra time to some of the spacious, meaningful chords, dispensing the movement’s magical quality at a delicate pace, to be answered by the strings in pensive dialogue. In the turbulent, complex Allegro movement, the strings are adversaries, each mostly playing alone with the piano. In the breathless urgency of the disquieting final movement, motifs come thick and fast, the final moments reminding us once more of the work’s enourmous scope and sound. The Trimavera’s reading of the work was rich and exciting, truly Brahmsian in the artists’ approach to its dark, massive and contrapuntal fabric.

The concert ended with another Schubert work - Piano Trio in B flat major D.898 opus 99 – a work composed only 15 years later than the student work Sonatensatz, however, being the last year of the composer’s life. The first of his two monumental piano trios, the B flat Piano Trio was not performed publicly, nor was it published during the composer’s lifetime. The Trimavera Trio’s performance of the work was up-front, fresh and dynamic. The players’ deep reading of it produced much contrast, with intimate, fragile sotto voce moments alternating with those of life-affirming energy in an acute awareness of Schubert’s turn of ideas and of the charm inherent in the Viennese style. Lia Tuuri weaves melodies of exquisite expression; ‘cellist Lauri Rantamoijanen convinces and moves his audience in sonorous, sweeping melodic lines. Batia Murvitz makes skilful use of timing to address each musical gesture, often poignantly “underlining” one key note. Embracing Schubert’s style, the trio’s playing is emotional but never precious.

The artists sent the audience home in the exhilarating, jazzy, uninhibited mood of the fourth movement of Austrian composer and jazz musician Werner Pirchner’s (1940-2001) “Wem gehört der Mensch” (To whom Man belongs) (1988).

The Trimavera Piano Trio offers its audiences much interest in its wide choice of repertoire. Its members are, indeed, young players but they are already endowed with much fine musicianship and experience. Their performance is articulate and confident, their individual expression and collaboration superbly balanced.


No comments: