Carnegie Hall, New York, NY
Anne-Sophie Mutter, vln; Daniel Müller-Schott, vcl; Lambert Orkis, pft /
Musical forms and genres all have their unique life cycles. Both the string quartet and the piano trio formed in the latter half of the eighteenth century, but while the string quartet is still today thriving as a medium, with countless quartets being written around the globe every year, the piano trio appears to have become a relic of the nineteenth century. Sure, there are a few exceptions, but really not that many. With this thought in mind, I decided to write a piano trio that would create a dialogue with the form in its heyday. Brief fragments of the trios of Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Brahms appear as fleeting apparitions, like ghosts from the past, creating brief flashes of sound, gone before one can even fully perceive them. I think of it as the auditory equivalent of seeing something in ones peripheral vision. I create these "ghosts" in several ways. Sometimes they are literal micro-fragments of past works, other times they are recastings of tunes, gestures, and harmonies from these works, like intricate jazz arrangements of a standard, where the tune has been so twisted and re-formed as to be almost unrecognizable, except for brief moments when it emerges into our conscious minds. There are also passages that simply use harmonies and gestures characteristic of the 18th and 19th century practice, but don’t refer specifically to any actual piano trio. I wanted to create a musical environment where these apparitions, these "ghosts," present themselves to us unpredictably in ephemeral, often ambiguous flashes of sound that always keep us guessing. The work is in nine short movements. It is written for and dedicated to Anne-Sophie Mutter.