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Pianist Tao Lin

Beethoven, Currier, & Schumann


Friday, Jul 21, 2023 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm EDT


Studzinski Recital Hall
12 Campus Road S Brunswick, ME 04011

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Piano Trio No. 5 in D Major, Op. 70, No. 1, “Ghost” 

    1. Allegro vivace e con brio
    2. Largo assai ed espressivo
    3. Presto  

 Mikhail Kopelman, violin • Daniel McDonough, cello • Pei-Shan Lee, piano 

Voyage Out

Kayla Bryan*, violin • Julimar Gonzalez*, violin • Wanshu Qiu*, viola • David Ying, cello • Derek Hartman*, piano 

— Intermission — 

Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 17  

    1. Allegro moderato
    2. Scherzo. Tempo di menuetto
    3. Andante 
    4. Allegretto

 Sergiu Schwartz, violin • Edward Arron, cello • Tao Lin, piano 






Piano Trio No. 5 in D Major, Op. 70, No. 1, “Ghost” (1808)


Beethoven undertook work on this piano trio during the summer of 1808, on retreat in the Viennese suburban village of Heiligenstadt. He had just completed his Symphony No. 6 (the “Pastorale”), and proposed to send his publisher a bundle of works, including the fifth and sixth symphonies, the Mass in C Major, a cello sonata, and two Piano Trios — justifying the inclusion of the latter, since, in Beethoven’s words, “there is a lack of them.” It had been twelve years since Beethoven’s previous trios, the set of three which had been his first published works in 1795.


Although 1808 saw the composition of several of Beethoven’s most beloved symphonic and chamber works, it was also a difficult year. Beethoven was struggling to secure stable patronage, his living situation was precarious, and he was considering leaving Vienna. The Countess Marie von Erdődy, who hosted Beethoven at her residence while he completed the Op. 70 trios, endeavored to prevent his departure by arranging for Prince Lobkowitz, Prince Kinsky, and the Archduke Rudolph to jointly assure Beethoven a yearly stipend — upon the contractual condition that he permanently remain in Vienna. As a gesture of thanks for this successful negotiation, Beethoven dedicated the pair of trios to the Countess Erdődy, and it was at her palace that the trios were premiered.


The “Ghost” moniker was attached to the trio following a comment from Beethoven’s eminent pupil, Carl Czerny, who wrote in 1842 that the slow second movement evoked the image of Hamlet’s encounter with the ghost of his father in the opening act of Shakespeare’s play. The movement contains some of the slowest music Beethoven ever composed, with long, sustained melodies supported by increasingly minute subdivisions flickering in the keyboard part, contributing to a stirring sense of unease. 


Program Note by Peter Asimov



Voyage Out (2019)


As the title suggests, Voyage Out starts in one place and ends in another.

I grew up in a musical family; my mother was a composer and my father a violist. My brother is also a composer. In our early teens, my brother and I were both extraordinarily devoted rock musicians. It consumed all our attention. But because our parents were classical trained musicians, we had a large record collection in our house. I remember starting to listen to these recordings — to Beethoven, Bartok, Stravinsky, Brahms, Schumann — and I was hooked. What struck me, back then, was how wide the emotional, sonic, landscape was of this music. As much as I loved pop and rock, this “other” music seemed to have so much more breadth. You could go anywhere. You sit down to listen to a Mahler symphony and you get on in one place and get off in another. It is this feeling of music representing some sort of mind journey that has stuck with me ever since. 

Though this idea is, I suppose, implicitly present in much or all of my music, I had, until now, never thought to write a piece that explicitly tried to trace some such journey in sound. Voyage Out starts out with loud, vigorous, intense material, which as the piece progresses gives way to an increasingly distant, remote sound world. The piece could be thought of as being in two fractured movements, where the first is interrupted by the second, and the second in turn interrupted by a continuation of the first. After that, the second movement continues, but with the material increasingly deconstructed and distanced. 

Fragments of the vigorous first movement occur at points throughout this section, but in increasingly remote presentations, like one might see a massive city dissolve into a speck as one takes a boat further out to sea.  

Enthusiasts of the work of Virginia Woolf (as I am) might wonder if there is some connection to her first novel, A Voyage Out. Though I loved the book when I read it many, many years ago, and the title is indeed similar, I wasn’t trying to make any particular association. That said, one of the images from the book that has stayed with me all these years is that of the main character, Rachel, playing Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, Op. 111 while on a boat sailing out to sea. The piece is for piano and string quartet. It was commissioned by Seattle Chamber Music.  

Program Note by Sebastian Currier

Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 17 (1846)

Of the 23 compositions Clara Wieck Schumann published during her lifetime, the Piano Trio in G minor stands out as the only work of chamber music among mostly songs, miniatures, and character pieces. The preponderance of such “lighter” fare in Schumann’s output reflects, for one, the prevailing expectation in her time that women, if they composed at all, should compose music for pleasure rather than profession. In that context, the act of composing and indeed publishing a “serious” piano trio may be viewed as a bold act of transgression. To such social obstacles were added family woes: Schumann composed the trio in the summer of 1846, an especially difficult time for her and her husband. Robert was experiencing ongoing nervousness and depression. She had just given birth to their third child and was pregnant with their fourth — a pregnancy which resulted in a miscarriage that very summer. The couple retreated to a spa on the island of Norderney, off Germany’s northwestern coast, where Clara took the time and space she needed to recuperate — and compose.

That Clara Schumann’s Trio has not achieved the popularity of those of her close friends Mendelssohn, Brahms, or even Robert Schumann is partly accountable to the gendered prejudices with which her work was met in the musical press. But Schumann’s Trio was received with warmth and admiration from the eminent musicians in her circle, and not least her husband. Immediately after Clara completed her Trio, Robert began his own first Piano Trio, which bears the imprint of Clara’s and which was often programmed together with hers, staging a musical dialogue between husband and wife. More recently, musicologist Nicole Grimes has identified the imprint of Clara Schumann’s trio on subsequent trios by Brahms (who performed Clara’s Trio) and Bedřich Smetana. But even such collegial admiration was channeled through the prism of her gender. In a letter to Clara, Joseph Joachim recalled his reaction upon performing the fugato section of the Finale for Mendelssohn, who “had a big laugh, because I would not believe that a woman could have composed something so sound and serious.” Schumann herself internalized these discourses: upon hearing Robert’s Trio, she became bashful about her own, describing it as “effeminate and sentimental” by comparison. The rediscovery of the work has fortunately gathered steam in recent decades, especially since the release of a recording, along with Robert’s three Trios, by the Beaux Arts Trio in 1972.


Program Note by Peter Asimov



Jul 21, 2023
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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Studzinski Recital Hall
12 Campus Road S
Brunswick, ME 04011
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