For over 40 years the Beaux Arts Trio has provided audiences with precise, exciting and critically acclaimed performances and recordings of chamber music for piano, violin and cello. The founding pianist of the trio, Menahem Pressler, is accompanied by violinist Daniel Hope and cellist Antonio Meneses. Hailing from Britain, Hope was voted Young Artist of the Year 1999 by Germany's two leading music magazines and Classical Performer (of the year) 2001 by London's Evening Standard newspaper. Meneses has performed with top orchestras all over the world, and has won first prize in several international competitions, not the least of which was the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.\nThese musical heavy-weights will be performing two staples in the trio repertoire Tuesday at 8 p.m. in the IU Musical Arts Center: Rachmaninoff's Trio Elegiaque in D Minor, Op. 9; and Beethoven's famous "Archduke" Trio in B flat Major, Op. 97.\nRussian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) composed the Trio Elegiaque in 1894. The depth of emotion this work contains is astonishing, especially in light of the fact that Rachmaninoff was only 20 years old at the time of its composition. Rachmaninoff wrote the trio "in memory of a great artist," the late Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff's musical mentor and idol, according to reviewer Robert L. Jones and a Rachmaninoff Web site. \nThe Trio Elegiaque is a massive work, containing three movements and lasting over 45 minutes. The Beaux Arts Trio has lived with this work since its successful recording in 1985, and its demands on the pianist, typical of much of Rachmaninoff's music, are fearsome. The first movement alone is nearly 20 minutes in length, and demonstrates Rachmaninoff's uncanny ability to manipulate and treat motivic material with dexterity and poise. Rachmaninoff manages to take a simple descending chromatic-line motive, introduced in the very first measure of the piece in the piano part, and utilize it to macrolevel proportions, both in melodic and harmonic schemes. The importance of D flat major as a key and pedal point in this piece, a half-step lower than the opening tonic, reinforces this chromatic motive.\nThe second movement, a variations form, would prefigure some of the ingenuity that would go into his later works such as the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43. Rachmaninoff's treatment of the violin and cello lines is equally noteworthy, with extended passages in parallel pizzicato (plucked strings) motion. The Andante eighth variation, with a turn figure followed by an ensuing D minor harmony, would be the exact opening of the First Symphony, written only a few years later, in the same key.\n"Rachmaninoff is underrated as a composer; his imagination and creativity, especially in the variations movement, is beautiful," Pressler said. \nThe third movement opens with a pianistic flourish lasting 34 bars before the violin and cello even enter. This movement contains a plethora of rhythmic agitation and excitement, which gives the piece a strong teleological thrust. A cadenza near the end of the movement in the piano part ushers in a repetition of the opening of the first movement, creating a cyclical work with large-scale cohesion. The work concludes in the low registers of both the piano and the cello, extremely softly, creating a sense of dark finality.\nComposed in 1811 by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), the four-movement "Archduke" Trio, Op. 97 in B flat major, is named after its dedicatee, Archduke Rudolph of Vienna, brother of the Emperor Franz, John Sichel of the Arbor Chamber Music Society said. The Beaux Arts Trio has performed this piece since its founding. Its first performance (which Pressler recalled immediately with great detail) was on July 13, 1955 at Tanglewood Music Center in Boston, making it almost 47 years to the day that Pressler has lived with and performed this work. \n"(The piece is) one of the great pieces in all of music literature, especially with its depth and variety of emotions," Pressler said. \nAnd indeed, the piece ranges in emotion from somber to festive, from noble to joyous. And beyond the range of emotional content, typical of Beethoven, this piece contains a variety of tonal surprises right from the opening sonata-form movement. The second theme in a sonata form would usually be in the key of the dominant, F major, but Beethoven takes the work on another tonal path, and the second theme commences in G major, a distantly related key. \nThe remainder of this movement progresses in typical sonata form, with a chromatic and motivically-derived development, and a recapitulation with both themes in the home key of B flat major, followed by a brief coda. Another noticeable characteristic includes, like in the Rachmaninoff, extended pizzicato sections in the strings parts. This pizzicato texture will pervade in large parts of the trio as a whole.\nThe second-movement Scherzo begins in the home key of B flat major. In this trio, the traditionally slow second movement and the lively third movement are reversed, where now the lively movement precedes the slower one. This Scherzo contains a great outpouring of imitation, inversion and canonic treatment of themes and motives. However, the key migrates in a short amount of time, and suddenly the piece moves to D flat major, a minor third above, only then to move to another key a minor third higher, E major. This mirrors the key motion in the first movement, where the piece went to the second theme a minor third below the home key, from B flat major to G major. Following the E major section, a long dominant pedal point ensues, setting up the return of B flat major and the opening material of the movement.\nAndante commences the third movement in D major, (now a major third above the home key) and, as typical in variation form, remains in that key and develops in rhythmic and textural complexity before returning near the movement's end in the opening simplified form. During the return of the opening material, a brief tonal center in E major occurs, reminding the listener of that key from the previous movement. In addition, emphasized chords during the variations on a G major harmony remind one of the second theme key area of the first movement. The end of this movement dovetails into the final Allegro movement, creating a sense of continuity and dramatic impetus.\nThe last movement once again starts in B flat major and has a playful and frivolous affect. It remains in the key of B flat major for quite some time, but, in a contrasting Presto far within the movement, the distant key of A major is explored. This key area, however, is suddenly interrupted, and the piece moves quickly back to B flat major. A massive coda reinforces the key of B flat major and brings the piece to a joyful, playful and powerful conclusion.\nTomorrow evening the world-renowned Beaux Arts Trio will perform two trios by Rachmaninoff and Beethoven. The cost is only $14 for general admission and $8 for IUB students.
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