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Judith Weir

Publisher: Chester Music

Piano Trio (1998)
commissioned by Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center with funds provided by The Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust
Chester Music Ltd
Small Ensemble (2-6 players)
Year Composed
15 Minutes
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Programme Note
Judith Weir Piano Trio (1998)
In my previous work, I have often enjoyed inventing titles which attempt to encapsulate the particular world of each composition, but this fifteen minutes piece for violin, cello and piano is simply entitled Piano Trio . What is the reason for this unusually abstract description? I think perhaps that in this piece, the many external impressions which habitually make up my musical world have become too numerous and too personal to be pinned down in the space of few words that a composition title allows.
Nevertheless, some listeners may find the following abbreviated guide useful - and others may prefer to ignore it.

The first movement began in my mind with impressions of Venice as relayed in Schubert's song Gondelfahrer; the crisp midnight air, the dark choppy water, the bells tolling, the gondolier alone in emotional turmoil. Schubert's world is a place where I can find constant inspiration and strength.
The second movement recalls a time when I was called from a phone box in Africa. At one moment I was alone in my room, the next (or so it seemed in my imagination) surrounded by light, heat and sudden energy and activity. The movement is not, however, an evocation of African music; it takes the form of a scherzo and trio, which collide with each other at the movement's conclusion.
The third movement formed in my mind whilst I was reading some Gaelic poetry from the Hebridean island of Lewis on Scotland 's far flung Atlantic fringe. I was thinking of the bleached white beaches in that part of the world, where every object lying on the sand - a washed-up bottle or a bird's skeleton - is a major event in a deserted landscape. The same might be said of this short set of musical variations, where melodic fragments are laid out with plenty of space around them, clear and plain for everyone to hear.
© Judith Weir

  • Ensemble
    Schubert Ensemble
    William Howard, Susan Tomes, Petra
Ms Weir’s new Piano Trio was inspired by “external impressions”: images of Venice, Gaelic poetry, a call she once got from Africa that overwhelmed her with a sudden sense of energy and heat. But her compositional ear is alert to purely musical impressions too: rippling Impressionistic piano writing, Stravinsky-like harmonies, Minimalistic noodlings and metre-fracturing dance music. What merges is an authentic, trenchant compositional voice. The violinist Ani Kavafian, the cellist Fred Sherry, and the pianist Mia Chung played the work with command, elegance and joy.
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times,01/05/1998
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