A Family Affair

Violist Emmy Tisdel is a guest performer with her parents' Prometheus Trio.

By - Apr 7th, 2016 12:17 pm
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Prometheus Trio, 2015

Prometheus Trio, 2015

The Prometheus Trio completes its season Monday and Tuesday at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music with a special guest. The trio (pianist Stefanie Jacob, violinist Margot Schwartz and cellist Scott Tisdel) will welcome Emmy Tisdel, daughter of Stefanie and Scott, in her first professional appearance in Milwaukee.

The concert will open with Mozart‘s Trio in E Major, K. 532. Jacob comments that true to his best works, this trio “flows from one gorgeous theme to the next.”

20th century Russian composer Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998) will be featured in two works. His Piano Trio (1992) features a “polystylism” that reflects a preference to compose works in a collage of styles. (Charles Ives used a similar approach.) Scott Tisdel observes the work has “many short sections, often juxtaposed violently, with passages of extreme dissonance and transcendent beauty. The material is never simply repeated; it is always re-cast, re-imagined.”

Emmy Tisdel. Photo by Rosen-Jones Photography.

Emmy Tisdel. Photo by Rosen-Jones Photography.

I personally have been captivated by variations upon a repeating motif that sounds rhythmically like a contemporary, dissonant rephrasing of “Happy Birthday to You” – an ear worm that once heard is difficult to let go.

Schwartz and Ms. Tisdel will team for a short bit of Schnittke humor, Moz-Art for Two Violins. Beginning with an incomplete fragment of a lost work by Mozart (dutifully catalogued as K. 446), the work also quotes the composer’s 35th and 40th symphonies. Part of the humor comes from the juxtaposition of the two violins. “If you listen to the parts by themselves, you can tell that it is Mozart,” Ms. Tisdel explains. “But when you put them together in the way that Schnittke arranged it, it’s a lot of fun.”

Johannes Brahms has long been a favorite for the Prometheus. The concert highlight will feature his Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 60. Ms. Tisdel will join the Prometheus on viola. Her viola studies have been strategic as an extra viola player is often needed: “I get to fill in chamber groups and play chamber music with a lot of people,” she says.

Ms. Tisdel calls the Brahms piano quartet a “magnificent” work. “C minor is a hugely dramatic key. After Beethoven, composers reserved a lot of their darkest moments for the key.” In this quartet, she adds, “themes switch from major to minor (offering) an incredible contrast between darkness and light.”

Ms. Tisdel will begin her Master’s degree work this fall at Rice University. This concert “is incredibly special for me” she says. “It feels symbolic to have a professional concert where I grew up with my parents at this point in my life.”

I have heard Ms. Tisdel a number of times in more informal settings and look forward to this “debut.”

The Prometheus Trio will perform Monday, April 11th and Tuesday, April 12th at 7:30 p.m. at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music on 1584 N. Prospect Ave. For ticket information see the WCM website or call (414) 276-5760. Additional evening parking is available at Milwaukee Eye Care, 1684 N. Prospect Ave. (at Brady St).

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