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Piano Trio No. 2: "J'entends"

  • Maverick Concert Hall, Woodstock, NY 120 Maverick Road Woodstock, NY, 12498 United States (map)

The Horszowski Trio: Jesse Mills, violin; Rieko Aizawa, piano; Rama Ramakrishnan, cello.


Nadia Boulanger’s last words are said to have been “J’entends une musique san commencement et sans fin.” (“I hear a music without beginning or end.”) In a 1987 program note for the premiere at Alice Tully Hall, the composer wrote, “Grand Line was my first meditation on this statement, and this trio is the second. In it, I am attempting to manipulate time the way that a visual artist manipulates space. Various musical ideas — each of which progresses at its own speed — are juxtaposed, overlapped as transparencies, and mixed as colours over a long, spun out melody which is to the piece what a canvas is to a painting.”

The trio begins with a tutti statement of the work’s main harmonic and melodic ideas. (This movement, while retaining its original identity as the opening rondo of the piano trio, also served as the ‘short score’ for the first movement of Hagen’s Symphony No. 2.)

The second movement develops the first movement’s ideas while overlaying a program of sorts — Hagen writes, “I was inspired by Degas’ painting Interior — the Rape for the emotional ambience of this movement.” Through-composed, the dialogue between “pure” music and “program music” mirrors the friction in Degas’ painting between “decorative” and “narrative” elements.

The third movement, Minute Scherzo, is another of Hagen’s sixty-second-long musical pallindromes, this time with a neurotic, peculiar, and somewhat hysterical quotation of Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge at its center-point. The final movement, entitled Quodlibet (a theological or philosophical issue presented for formal argument or disputation or, in music, a medley) takes the material from the preceding movements and makes a collage of it while moving toward a broadly romantic statement of what Hagen describes as “the unabashed melody which has been present in various forms, and struggling to come forward, since the begining of the piece.”

Winner, 1st Prize, the Barlow Endowment International Composition Prize for Chamber Music, 1985, J’entends was commissioned by the Lehner Trio and premiered by the ensemble at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City, on 7 April 1987.
— Original Program Note by Daron Hagen
  • Learn more about the Maverick Concert Hall concert here.
  • Learn more about the Horszowski Trio here.
  • Learn more about the Hagen Trio No. 2 here.

Hailed by The New Yorker as “destined for great things,” when the members of the Horszowski Trio (Hor-SHOV-ski) – Jesse Mills, Raman Ramakrishnan, and Rieko Aizawa – played together for the first time, they immediately felt the spark of a unique connection. Many years of close friendship had created a deep trust between the players, which in turn led to exhilarating expressive freedom. 

Two-time Grammy-nominated violinist Jesse Mills first performed with Raman Ramakrishnan, founding cellist of the prize-winning Daedalus Quartet, at the Kinhaven Music School when they were children. In New York City, they met pianist Rieko Aizawa, who, upon being discovered by the late violinist and conductor Alexander Schneider, had made her U.S. debuts at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Their musical bonds were strengthened at various schools and festivals around the world, including the Juilliard School and the Marlboro Festival. Ms. Aizawa was the last pupil of the legendary pianist, Mieczysław Horszowski (1892-1993), at the Curtis Institute. 

The Trio takes inspiration from Horszowski’s musicianship, integrity, and humanity. Like Horszowski, the Trio presents repertoire spanning the traditional and the contemporary. In addition, they seek to perform works from the trove of composers with whom Horszowski had personal contact, such as Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Martinu, Villa-Lobos, and Granados. 

The Horszowski Trio’s busy concert schedule has included the Chamber Music Societies in Philadelphia, Buffalo, Mobile, Yellow Springs, Bethlehem, Melbourne, St. Cloud, and Williamsburg; the Friends of Chamber Music in Kansas City, Troy, Stockton, and Fullerton; the Boise Chamber Music Series, Music at Kohl Mansion, and Music in Deerfield; Southern Oregon University Chamber Music Concerts, the Kravis Center, the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild, the New School Concerts and Peoples’ Symphony series in New York; the Phillips Collection and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington; the Athenaeum in La Jolla; the Da Camera Society in Los Angeles and Da Camera of Texas in Houston; and Cornell University, UCLA, the Miller Theatre at Columbia University, the University at Buffalo, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond University, Duke University, the University of Las Vegas, and the University of Texas at Brownsville. Festival appearances include the Bard Music Festival, Maverick Concerts, Caramoor, Princeton Summer Chamber Concerts, Cooperstown Chamber Music Festival, and Music in the Vineyards. 

Internationally, the Horszowski Trio has performed an extensive tour of Japan, at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, for Virtuosi Concerts in Winnipeg. They are scheduled to make their debut in Mexico at the Festival Internacional de Música de Cámara de San Miguel de Allende in 2018 and their Wigmore Hall debut in 2019. 

Their debut recording, an album of works by Fauré, Saint-Saëns, and D’Indy – all composers Mieczysław Horszowski knew – was released by Bridge Records in the fall of 2014. The album was featured as a Recording of the Month by MusicWeb International. 

The Horszowski Trio has particularly championed the music of Joan Tower, whose work, “For Daniel,” they have performed on stages across the U.S. and overseas, and which they have recorded as part of a series of chamber music recordings to be released to celebrate the 75th birthday of Ms. Tower. Electric Earth Concerts, a festival in New Hampshire, commissioned a new work for the Trio, from Eric Moe, “Welcome To Phase Space.” The work was premiered in June 2014. Chamber Music America has commissioned a work for the Trio from Andreia Pinto-Correia, to be premiered in the 2017-2018 season. 

Based in New York City, the members of the Horszowski Trio teach at Columbia University and the Longy School of Music of Bard College.

Earlier Event: September 1
Duo for Violin & Cello
Later Event: September 9
Misterioso for Koto, Cello, & Voice