Piano Trio 

Composed in: 2001
Instrumentation: Piano Trio [Piano, Violin, Cello]
Commissioned by: Jack & Florence Irving
for Pacific Serenades
Premiered by: Belinda Broughton, violin
David Speltz, cello
Ayke Agus, piano
Publisher: Pacific Serenades

Program Notes

The composition of my Piano Trio started in the Fall of 2000, when I was on a flight from Los Angeles to Vancouver, where I was going on a composing vacation—I was holing up in a nice little B&B where I would have nothing to distract me but the lure of taking walks around one of my favorite cities.  The opening of the piece just popped into my head as I settled into my seat on the plane, and I wrote it down right away so that I wouldn't forget. During the rest of the trip, I did lots of sketching for this piece, based on that idea, and for another that was due around the same time.

School began shortly after that, and in my theory class, we studied a couple of sarabandes by Bach. They were so beautiful that I could not stop thinking about them, so I decided that it would be fun to try writing one of my own, in my own style.  Thus, the unusual form of the first movement, which is called Frenzy, with Sarabande.  The sarabande is kind of like the eye of a storm—a relative calm in the middle of this fast, frenetic music, which both begins and ends (in altered form), the movement.

The piece was originally to be in three movements, and I had numerous sketches for the last movement, as I then imagined it.  But as I was working away on—and nearly finished with—the second movement, I realized that I didn't think it was the right fit.  And so, two weeks before the premiere of the piece, I threw that away and started a brand-new second movement.  This one seemed a perfect fit, matching the kinetic energy of the first movement with its emotional intensity.  

At the first performances in 2001, on three successive Pacific Serenades concerts, I presented the Trio as a work-in-progress, explaining that there would be one day a third movement.  After the concerts, I was thrilled when audience members were not only very moved by the work, but started giving me advice. Some said, "I can't wait to hear the third movement," and just as many said, "Don't touch it! Leave it the way it is!"

About six years later, I programmed a performance of it at UCLA, in part to force myself to deal with the still-missing third movement.  Nothing seemed to work right, or to appropriately fit after the Illuminations movement, and so I decided to keep it a secret that I had ever thought of adding another movement and to see how people responded. Since no one mentioned anything that suggested the piece seemed incomplete, I decided that it was "meant to be" a two-movement piece and have not looked back since.

The piece was commissioned by Jack & Florrie Irving for Pacific Serenades and was premiered in March of 2001 by Belinda Broughton, violin, David Speltz, cello, and Ayke Agus, piano.


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