Virtuoso piano trio from Ireland, the Fidelio Trio, will perform works by Beethoven, Ravel and Smetana in the Grahamstown Music Society’s next concert at their successful new venue, the NELM auditorium, at 7.30pm on Thursday 31 August.
A piano trio is distinct from a string trio in that it includes… well, a piano… and the Fidelio Trio comprises Darragh Morgan (violin), Adi Tal (cello) and Mary Dullea (piano).
Shortlisted for the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards, the Fidelio Trio are enthusiastic champions of the piano trio genre, performing the widest possible range of repertoire on concert stages across the world; they are broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 3, RTÉ Lyric FM, WNYC, NPR and featured on Sky Arts documentaries; they have an impressive list of commissions and first performances from the leading and newest composers and have a large discography of highly acclaimed recordings.
The programme for their performance on 31 August opens with Beethoven’s Piano Trio Op. 70 No. 1 – ‘Ghost’, followed by Ravel’s Trio in A minor for piano, violin & cello and Bohemian composer Smetana’s Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 15.
The …virtuosic Fidelio Trio… (Sunday Times) are Darragh Morgan, violin, Adi Tal, cello and Mary Dullea, piano. Shortlisted for the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards, the Fidelio Trio are enthusiastic champions of the piano trio genre, performing the widest possible range of repertoire on concert stages across the world; they are broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 3, RTÉ Lyric FM, WNYC, NPR and featured on Sky Arts documentaries; they have an impressive list of commissions and first performances from the leading and newest composers and have a large discography of highly acclaimed recordings.
Since their debut at London’s Southbank Centre, they have appeared at the Wigmore Hall and Kings Place, at festivals from Brighton and Cheltenham to St. Magnus, and from Gregynog to Huddersfield. They regularly perform across the Irish Sea at the National Concert Hall, Dublin, the Kilkenny Festival and the Belfast Festival at Queens as well as overseas in Shanghai, Porto, Paris, Venice, Florence, Johannesburg, New York City, Princeton, San Francisco and Boston.
Their extensive discography includes Ravel and Saint-Saëns for Resonus Classics; Korngold and Schoenberg (Verklärte Nacht arr. Steuermann) for Naxos; the complete Michael Nyman Piano Trios for MN Records; multiple releases on NMC, Delphian Records and Convivium including portrait CDs for composers such as Luke Bedford and Michael Zev Gordon.
Keen to ensure the future of the piano trio, The Fidelio Trio work closely with composition and performance students at institutions across the UK and all over the world including the Peabody Conservatory, Curtis Institute, NAFA Singapore, and Stellenbosch Conservatorium South Africa, also they have been artists-in-residence at St. Patrick’s College Dublin City University, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and the State University of New York, SUNY.
The Fidelio Trio are constantly commissioning new works, giving first performances and, importantly, further performances to introduce them into the repertory. Composers that the Trio have worked closely with include Toshio Hosokawa, Charles Wuorinen, Johannes Maria Staud, Michael Nyman, Gerald Barry, Donnacha Dennehy, Evan Ziporyn, Simon Bainbridge, Judith Weir … to name but few.
Inspirational musicians The Fidelio Trio have collaborated with include Nicholas Daniel (oboe), Richard Watkins (horn), Joan Rodgers and Patricia Rozario (soprano), and with spoken word, author Alexander McCall Smith and poet Sinéad Morrissey.
Following on from their recent French Piano Trios Series at St. John’s Smith Square, London, the 2016-17 season includes an extensive Asia tour (Thailand, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong), a further USA tour, many festival appearances and a Schubert cycle at Kilkenny Arts Festival. Their recent release of Ravel and Saint-Saëns Trios was Gramophone Magazine Critic’s Choice. They are Artistic Directors of their annual Winter Chamber Music Festival at Belvedere House, Dublin City University and continue to be passionate in their advocacy for the piano trio across the world.
Tickets (available at the door) are R90 (adults), R70 (pensioners), R50 (tertiary students). Admission is free for GMS members and schoolgoers.
Full programme (with notes) and biographies below
L van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) Piano Trio Op. 70 No. 1 – ‘Ghost’
- Allegro vivace e con brio
- Largo assai ed espressivo
± 25 minutes
Beethoven had announced himself to the wider musical world in 1795 with his three Op. 1 piano trios. It was over a decade before he returned to the medium in the summer of 1808 with a pair of trios to become Op.70. This first of the pair was premiere on 10th December 1808 at a musical salon of its dedicatee, Countess Marie von Erdödy. In the Op. 1 trios Beethoven had already given the string instruments more of the limelight than had been the case in the keyboard-dominated trios of Mozart and Haydn but here, their independence is complete and the works are full of contrapuntal interplay. This trio in D major is the only one of his mature piano trios in three movements.
The first movement opens explosively with a unison scale-like theme in D major, immediately countered with a disorientating F natural held in the cello. It slips back into D major with a lyrical melody, passing in turn to the violin and piano. This opening at once presents to us the highly charged and volatile nature of a movement that is built on abrupt contrasts of texture and dynamics.
The ‘Largo assai ed espressivo’ second movement in D minor spawned the work’s nickname ‘Ghost Trio’ and is the slowest slow movement in all Beethoven. The thematic material is unusually fragmented with unstable harmonies and sombre, eerie, orchestral textures. It is music of extraordinary tension and gloom.
The finale restores us to a world of convivial normality and there is plenty of humour too with the hesitations and harmonic surprises in the main theme.
Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937) Trio in A minor for piano, violin & cello
- Pantoum: Assez vif
- Passacaille: Très large
- Final: Animé
± 25 minutes
Ravel’s Trio dates from the Spring and Summer of 1914. The international situation at the time was worsening and Ravel was affected both spiritually and mentally by the impending catastrophe. He was accepted into the Army in 1915, and the first movement of the Trio probably reflects Ravel’s anxiety. Its main theme is based on four repetitions of seven chords with a swaying rhythm. This is introduced by the piano, then joined by the strings, and by the end of the movement what remains of this theme is a tolling rhythm in the bottom register of the piano. By the time Ravel’s brother and his friends were called up the streets were buzzing with what Ravel described as a “horrible enthusiasm”. “I fear that I’m going to go mad, or give way to this obsession” remarked Ravel. The second movement of the Trio, entitled Pantoum, is overtly obsessive; an extraordinary movement that combines elements of scherzo, lied and rondo, full of sparkling wit and vigour. In the middle of the movement, under the rhythmic energy of the violin, a beautifully lyrical tune emerges from the piano, and the movement ends with huge statements of the initial material.
Then we are plunged into the Passacaille the theme which is introduced in the depths of the piano and taken over first by the cello and then the violin, which climbs ever higher and higher. The climax is reached chordally and when the theme is recapitulated it moves, in a diminuendo, in the opposite direction: violin, cello and finally piano, left hand taking over from right hand, leading the melody back to silence. The last movement explodes into life with surging arpeggios and pattering semiquavers. A fanfare of chords bursts out in F sharp major calling for victory and purging the effect of the sombre Passacaille.
A monumental work, this is a Trio conceived on a big scale with broad themes. The resources of the instruments are exploited to the fullest degree and we see the complete expression of Ravel’s genius.
Bedřich Smetana (1824 – 1884) Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 15
- Moderato assai
- Allegro, ma non agitato
- Finale. Presto
± 30 minutes
Bohemian composer Bedřich Smetana is recognized as pioneering the development of a music style which became closely identified with his country’s aspirations to independent statehood and is thus regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music. A generation older than Dvořák, he was celebrated for his numerous operas, orchestral and piano pieces which reflect Czech culture and identity. To the world of chamber music, he left a late string quartet and this earlier piano trio, both epic works of romantic expression.
Smetana wrote his only piano trio in 1855 when he was just thirty-one. He dedicated the work to the memory of his oldest daughter Bedřiška who had just died at the age of four from scarlet fever. A young girl of great musical potential, Smetana was devastated by this loss. Though he left no specific programmatic description of the trio, its grief-stricken and elegiac character is unmistakable. And he annotated a catalogue of his work with this dedication.
The Trio begins with a passionate outcry in the violin which recurs throughout the movement. The second theme presents contrast in this sonata form, and the movement is one of light and shade, nostalgia and loss.
The second movement is a scherzo in all but name. It has two trios, named by Smetana Alternativo I and II. The first of these begins with a variant of the opening violin motif of the first movement. The second is more sombre in character and the coda of the movement brings back the music from the first Alternativo.
The rondo finale alternates between a restless moto perpetuo feel and an elegiac melody with the two themes eventually combining in a funeral-march. The work concludes with an uplifting flourish.
Darragh Morgan, violin
Irish violinist Darragh Morgan has a hugely diverse career. Concerto highlights include working closely with Arvo Part, performing his Tabula Rasa at the RTE Living Music Festival, followed by over 20 performances with London Musici/Rambert Dance Company. Regular solo appearances with the Ulster Orchestra include the world premiere of Sir John Tavener’s Hymn of Dawn which he also performed with the Istanbul Symphony Orchestra, Dallapiccola’s Tartiniana Seconda, world premiere of Bill Campbell’s Swim for Violin & Orchestra, live on BBC Radio 3 from Sonorities Festival and Samuel Barber’s violin concerto which Darragh also gave the South African premiere of with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra. He has recorded Donnacha Dennehy’s Elastic Harmonic with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, with whom he has also premiered Brian Irvine’s A Mon Seul Desir and gave the world premiere of Andrew Poppy’sDarwin’s Sin Draw with the Crash Ensemble. Other concerto appearances include Koln Kammer Orchester, Camerata Tinta Barocca Cape Town and Cyprus Symphony Orchestra.
As a chamber musician and soloist Darragh has performed at many International Festivals including Warsaw Autumn, Wien Modern, Ars Musica Brussels, Maerz Musik Berlin, Festival d’Automne Paris, Klangspuren Schwaz, Osterfestival Tirol, Dubrovnik Summer Festival, Lucerne Festival, National Arts Festival South Africa, BBC Proms Chamber Music, Aldeburgh, Spitalfields, Cheltenham, Brighton, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, ICMC, Ether Festival, City of London Festival and St Magnus International Festival. He is violinist and founding member of the Fidelio Trio with whom he has appeared at the Wigmore Hall, Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre, Symphony Space New York, Casa da Musica Porto, Johannesburg Musical Society and recorded Michael Nyman’s complete piano trios for MN Records. They are currently Artists in Residence at St Patrick’s College, Dublin. Previously as violinist with The Smith Quartet, Darragh performed and recorded with as diverse artists as Philip Glass, Louis Andriessen, Gavin Bryars and Steve Reich. They appeared internationally at Seoul Arts Centre, Bang on a Can Marathon New York, The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C. and made an acclaimed recording of Philip Glass’ complete string quartets on Signum Records.
World-class international groups Darragh has led include Ensemble Modern, London Sinfonietta, Musik Fabrik, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Remix Ensemble, Athelas Sinfonietta and Red Note Ensemble, collaborating with conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Oliver Knussen, Heinz Holliger, Paul Daniel, Francois-Xavier Roth and En Shao. He has been invited to lead the Macau Orchestra, Les Siecles, Opus 20, English Touring Opera, BBC 2’s Genius of Beethoven series, English Session Orchestra and throughout the 2004 season was Artistic Director of Baroque 2000 in South Africa.
Darragh has recorded over 50 CDs for labels including Mode, NMC, Black Box, Altarus, Naxos, Nimbus, Signum and Delphian. He broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 3, NPR, CBC, WQXR, RTE and WDR.
Adi Tal, cello
Winner of the Muriel Taylor Cello Prize and the Making Music Award for Young Concert Artists, Adi Tal is emerging as one of the most dynamic young cellists of her generation. She made her solo debut at age 12 with the Israel Chamber Orchestra, and has since performed with numerous ensembles including the Israel Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony, Haifa Symphony, and the Herzliya Chamber Orchestra, collaborating with conductors Thomas Sanderling, Aldo Ceccato, Dan Ettinger, and James Judd. She has performed in Wigmore Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Teatro Colón, Berlin Philharmonie, Waldbühne Berlin, Kölner Philharmonie, Mozarteum Grosser Saal, Tonhalle, KKL Luzern, Paris Philharmonie and the Louvre Auditorium. Her solo and chamber music performances have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Singaporean Radio, and Israeli Radio, and she has recorded for Naxos and Meridian Records.
Adi joined the acclaimed Fidelio Trio in 2014. The trio performs a broad variety of works, ranging from antiquity to brand-new commissions. The Fidelio Trio is closely associated with some of today’s leading international composers, including Toshio Hosokawa, Charles Wuorinen, Johannes Maria Staud, and Michael Nyman. They are broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 3, RTÉ Lyric FM, WNYC, and NPR. They are artists-in-residence at St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra, Dublin City University.
Born in Israel, Adi began her cello studies at the age of seven with Hillel Zori. She received her Bachelor’s from the Cleveland Institute of Music as a student of Richard Aaron, her Postgraduate Diploma from the Royal Northern College of Music as a student of Ralph Kirshbaum, and her Master’s from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama as a student of David Takeno. She has performed at the Perlman Music Program, Ravinia Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Verbier Academy, and Banff Music Festival, and she is a regular participant at the Master Classes and Open Chamber Music at IMS Prussia Cove. She has collaborated with such artists as Steven Isserlis, Leif Ove Andsnes, Ralf Gothoni, Miriam Fried, Nicholas Daniel, Chen Halevi, and Atar Arad and Peter Salaff of the Cleveland Quartet. She has won awards from the Martin Musical Scholarship Fund, America-Israel Cultural Foundation, Ronen Foundation, and the Raphael Sommer Music Scholarship Trust.
Adi frequently performs with Cappella Andrea Barca, directed by Andras Schiff alongside members of Quatuor Mosaïques, and is also a regular participant in Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. She performs on a cello made by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini in Parma dated 1765, generously on loan from a private collection.
Mary Dullea, piano
As soloist and chamber musician, Irish pianist Mary Dullea performs internationally at venues including London’s Wigmore Hall, Casa da Musica (Porto), Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre, Phillips Collection Washington D.C., Symphony Space New York City, Palazzo Albrizzi Venice (Italy), Johannesburg Music Society and National Concert Hall Dublin. Festival appearances include City of London, Cheltenham, St. Magnus International Festival, Belfast International Chamber Music Festival, Brighton, Huddersfield, Corsham, Aldeburgh and Sound Scotland as well as Belfast Festival at Queens, West Cork Music, Reggello International Festival, Lodi Festival (Italy), TRANSIT Festival (Leuven) and National Arts Festival (South Africa) Her frequent broadcasts include BBC Radio 3, Radio 4, RTHK, RTE Lyric FM, WNYC, Radio New Zealand and Sky Arts, Irish, French, Austrian and Italian television. She was the Irish representative at EU 12 and 15 Piano Extravaganza Concerts in Salle Pleyel Paris, Palais des Beaux-Arts Brussels and in Luxembourg. Concerto appearances include RTE Concert Orchestra, KZN Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC commissioned and broadcast piano concerto by Rob Keeley with Lontano.
A sought-after interpreter of new music, Mary’s expansive repertoire covers the standard piano literature as well as an ever-increasing amount of 20th- and 21st- century compositions, many of which are dedicated to her. She has commissioned and premiered works from composers as varied as Michael Finnissy, Johannes Maria Staud, Michael Nyman, Donnacha Dennehy and Gerald Barry– notably with her piano trio, The Fidelio Trio and with violinist, Darragh Morgan.
Mary’s CD releases include on labels NMC, Delphian Records, Altarus, Col Legno, MNR, Naxos, Convivium, Lorelt and Divine Art. Since 2008 she has been the curator of Soundings (an annual UK/Austrian collaborative new music festival) at the Austrian Cultural Forum London. She is the pianist in the contemporary ensemble Lontano and in 2015 she served on the jury of ‘Schubert und die Musik der Moderne’ International Chamber Music Competition in Graz, Austria.
Mary studied at The Royal College of Music, London on the Edith Best Scholarship with Yonty Solomon. She holds a MMus in Contemporary Music Studies from Goldsmiths University of London and a PhD in Performance from The University of Ulster, Mary is Director of Performance at The University of Sheffield and is also on the teaching staff of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. In 2014 she launched ‘Chamber Music on Valentia’, a classical music festival on Valentia Island, Co. Kerry, of which she is Artistic Director.