Classical

Brahms, Haydn and… Daron Hagen

The Prometheus Trio performs three great works, one by rising Milwaukee composer Daron Hagen.

By - Apr 17th, 2015 01:52 pm
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Prometheus Trio: pianist Stefanie Jacob, violinist Timothy Klabunde, cellist Scott Tisdel.

Prometheus Trio: pianist Stefanie Jacob, violinist Timothy Klabunde, cellist Scott Tisdel.

Resident trio of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, the Prometheus Trio (pianist Stefani Jacob, violinist Timothy Klabunde and cellist Scott Tisdel) close their season this Monday and Tuesday with three light and lyrical choices.

The concert opens with Franz Josef Haydn‘s Trio in G Major, Hob. XV: 41. This high-spirited trio was written early in Haydn’s career as a harpsichord trio. In Baroque style, cello and left hand ground the work. The keyboard right hand shares development with the violin. Jacob points out that, “the numerous trills in the right hand … provide the illusion that these tones are sustained.” The work does sound different as a harpsichord piece, but suits Jacob’s light, lyrical touch on piano.

Best known for his operatic music, contemporary composer Daron Hagen has written a number of chamber works. Although he grew up in New Berlin, Wisconsin, his works are infrequently played locally – with the notable exception of the Madison Opera premiere of his dramatization of the life of Frank Lloyd Wright, Shining Brow, in 1997.

Composer Daron Hagen - photo by Neil Erickson

Daron Hagen. Photo by Neil Erickson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Prometheus will perform Hagen’s Piano Trio No. 3 “Wayfaring Stranger” (2006). The original American folk spiritual, “Wayfaring Stranger” has been reinterpreted by performers as diverse as Jerry Garcia, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash and Anonymous 4. Theme and variations built from the spiritual form an immediately approachable, familiar work. A choice to frame the movements in spirited dance styles adds energy. But the result remains a formally structured classical work.

Jacob apologizes, “We really can’t believe that it has taken us this long to discover the wonderful trios of Milwaukee native Daron Hagen, but we are very glad that we finally have.”

Piano trios searching to broaden their repertory often seek transcriptions of works written for larger forces. Johannes Brahms‘ masterful but sparse output included only three traditional piano trios. The Prometheus has partnered with clarinet and horn guests to perform the other two.

Naturally, Prometheus would program one of Brahm’s greatest chamber works – String Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 18 — in a version adapted for trio performance. This version, transcribed by Theodor Kirchner with Brahm’s blessing, captures the extraordinary lyricism of this composition. The piano – substituting for four strings – often introduces the melodies. Jacob observes, “(although a) perfectly-articulated sonata form, one instead remembers a lyrical outpouring of one gorgeous theme after another.”

The Prometheus Trio closes a second chapter in its 15 year history with the final performance by violinist Timothy Klabunde after 10 years with the Trio. Klabunde serves as assistant principal Second Violin in the Milwaukee Symphony and teaches at both Cardinal Stritch and the Wisconsin Conservatory. The violinist who will join Jacob and Tisdel in the Prometheus Trio’s 16th season has not yet been announced.

The Prometheus Trio will perform twice – Monday, April 20th and Tuesday, April 21 at 7:30 at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music on 1584 N Prospect Avenue. For ticket information see the WCM website or call (414) 276-5760. Complimentary Parking is available at Milwaukee Eye Care, 1684 N. Prospect Ave., located one block north of the Conservatory, for evening concerts.

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