Archive for the ‘ Musings ’ Category

Another nice review

Here are some excerpts from the recent concert in California:

MERCI BEAUCOUP, GRAMERCY

Beethoven’s massive “Archduke” Trio in B Flat, Op. 97…. powerful thematic projection and trenchant sound…. provocative and convincing.


Gunther Schuller’s Third Piano Trio opened the second half and the sinewy sonics continued in the three-movement work from 2012. Commissioned by the Gramercy, the composer’s complicated rhythmic structure struggles in the opening Tempo Moderato to be heard through an array of string slides and insistent outbursts and low-bass resister rumblings from the piano. Ms. Leventhal played tremolos at the top of her violin’s range that were captivating. She continued these acrobatics in the Largo with a long double-stopped solo passage in the mid range, with the cello playing in a mournful duet, many octaves apart. 



Tremolos in all three instruments began the final movement Presto, then in syncopating rhythms, slipping into a pulsating and languorous tango style. The violin and piano lines interwove with a controlled frenzy which ended abruptly in a loud single bottom “a” note in the piano. 

One felt this daring work could not be played better, or with more visceral impact. 



Could the high-voltage playing continue? It did indeed with a full-throttle reading of the wonderful Ravel Trio…. This was an irresistible Ravel performance, the three musicians completely at ease with their energetic conception.



Terry McNeill, Classical Sonoma

The Joys of Travel

Gramercy just returned from a concert in Petaluma, CA, where we got to reconnect with friends and share some great music.

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Gramercy Premieres Schuller

On January 14, we premiered Gunther Schuller’s Piano Trio No. 3 at Boston’s Jordan Hall to a large and enthusiastic audience. The review in The Boston Globe begins:

A quick stab of a chord, then a dark, slowly spreading pool of dissonance: The opening motive of Gunther Schuller’s new Piano Trio No. 3, premiered on Monday in Jordan Hall by the Gramercy Trio (violinist Sharan Leventhal, cellist Jonathan Miller, and pianist Randall Hodgkinson). At the age of 87, Schuller has written a piece that feels retro and youthful at the same time, working venerable veins of modernism with often bristling energy.”

 

Schuller commission

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This week we met for the first time with Gunther Schuller. His new trio is beautiful!

Music and Visuals

Jonathan makes a good point. The way one sense supports and enhances another is really interesting, and we tend to be very visually oriented. I also find the phenomenon of synesthesia fascinating. There are people who see colors when they hear music… different colors are actually associated with specific pitches. Some composers (Skryabin, Rimsky-Korsakov) associated keys with colors. Olivier Messiaen  was very influenced by his own synesthesia, wrote extensively on color and music, and even indicated colors in some of his scores as an aid to interpretation.

-Sharan

As Far as the Eye Can Hear and the Ear Can See

This project is fascinating in many ways: the most important is, naturally, purely musical. However, it raises profound questions about the general nature of perception. Our brains routinely form a detailed image of reality with small amounts of real information. In a BSO audition for example, the committees are very relieved when the screen comes down and they can see. Not because they can play politics, but instead, people feel that they have greater listening ability if they can see!!!
Gramercy is taking this normal human quality and “running with it.” Our aim will be to amplify the aesthetics and explore new reactions to the art of music, and the music of art

Commissioning

We have exciting news. Gramercy is a recipient of a 2011 Chamber Music America Commissioning Grant. We will be getting a new trio from Gunther Schuller. This is such an exciting prospect. Working with Gunther is always a learning experience on the highest order, and his music is terrific. I recently heard the premier of his second tuba concerto – a powerful and beautiful work.

I also want to use the new piece as the starting point for our next big interdisciplinary project, As Far as the Eye Can Hear and the Ear Can See. Gunther’s music is perfect for this – having an almost physical presence in such an ephemeral medium…. It doesn’t seem an accident that his first big success as a composer was the Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee. I think we should try to get a sculptor involved….

-Sharan

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