226 Years of Great Music

Prometheus Trio will play works by four composers written between 1786 and 2012.

By - Dec 4th, 2014 01:55 pm
Stefanie Jacob

Stefanie Jacob

The Prometheus Trio, in residence at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, offers their second concert of the season on December 8th and 9th. Stefanie Jacob, piano and Scott Tisdel, cello, will be joined by guest violinist Margot Schwartz for this concert.

A member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Schwartz also plays chamber music in Milwaukee as a member of the Present Music Ensemble and the Arcus String Quartet. Summers may find her traveling to a variety of summer festivals or other venues – an opportunity to perform in 20 different countries.

Prometheus will offer two works by American composer Elliott Carter for the first time in the series. Carter’s Elegy was written early in his career in a neoclassical style. The popular and bitter-sweet work has been available in several formats, but Tisdel arranged a new version for piano trio for this occasion. The trio will also perform Carter’s last piece – Epigrams – written just before his death in 2012 at the age of 103. This set of short sketches reflect the more experimental techniques Carter championed. Carter’s larger works have inspired other composers and won him two Pulizer Prizes but enjoyed less public support. Critic Geoff Brown found that the string trio in Epigram “would be impressive at any age: playfulness, clarity, substance squeezed into tiny gestures.”

Scott Tisdel

Scott Tisdel

A third piano trio, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his Trio in B-flat Major, K. 502,  will also be performed. It represents Mozart at his cheerful best. Critic Homer Ulrich declares this work “contains everything that Mozart had achieved up to this point: an air of gentle brooding, combined with moments of brilliant display; perfection of form with daring and unexpected turns of phrase; sublime melodies with roughly dramatic contrasts.” Jacob finds sections of the work to be “more like a piano concerto” with “string themes surrounded by cascades of florid piano passages.”

Margot Schwartz

Margot Schwartz

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote only one piano trio, the Trio in A minor, Op. 50. The trio is a large, dramatic work alternating elegiac sections with more lyrical ones. The somber mood envelops a driving energy. The intensity is broken by a second movement featuring a series of 12 variations of substantial variety – including a waltz, an homage to Chopin, virtuoso cantabile sections and a jaunty fugue. But Tisdel points out, the work ends in the “blackest possible fashion, with a funeral march (marked “lugubre”), which gradually fades into nothingness.”  But Tchaikovsky is a master at drawing an exciting performance from a gloomy premise – consider his Pathétique Symphony.

From the Mozart piece, written in 1786, to Carter’s work in 2012, that’s a span of more than two centuries, and quite a range of work, all in one concert.

The Prometheus Trio will perform on two nights – Monday, December 8th and Tuesday, December 9th at 7:30 at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music on 1584 N Prospect Avenue. For ticket and free parking information see the WCM website or call (414) 276-5760.

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