Event programme, 12 December 2009

Ed Bennett: For Marcel Dzama (2007)
For violin, cello, piano and electronics

For Marcel Dzama was loosely inspired by the Canadian artist of the same name in whose work I have recently become interested. Much of Dzama’s work is influenced by the folklore and tradition of the rural area of Winnipeg where he was brought up. His paintings, drawings and sculptures often include a cast of weird and wonderful characters derived from this tradition and which now inhabit his own strange world.

The music here is direct and rhythmic and the electronic part consists of a series of samples which are triggered by an offstage performer at various points in the piece. In the first section of the piece the sounds are used as a kind of response to the actions of the instrumentalists, in the second section they act as a conflicting and erratic rhythmic layer, and in the final section a distorted and rising string harmonic sound is used to accompany and then engulf the rising string figures, gradually subsuming the trio.

It was commissioned by Bromsgrove Concerts for the Fidelio Trio and first performed by them in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire in April 2007.


Luke Bedford: Chiaroscuro (2002, revised 2005)
For violin, cello and piano; 8'

The title refers to the contrasts between light and dark in painting, and I felt this reflected the nature of this piece. There are contrasts between the opening, where the strings merely shadow the piano lines, and the final section, where they play expressive melodies in quarter-tones, something impossible on a normal piano. The harmony of the piece is created by mixing various combinations of major and minor chords, so that there is a constant shift between stable and more mutable areas. Similarly, much of the piece is in an uneven 11/16 time signature, again creating an effect that the ground is not entirely stable underneath.


Thomas Larcher: My Illness is the Medicine I Need (2002)
For Soprano, Violin, Cello and Piano; 14’

My illness is the medicine I need.
I think I’ll stay here until I die, I’m tired of life. I don’t like freedom. The world frightens me.
Eat and sleep. Eat and sleep. The monotony here kills you.
I like it when people ask me the time. It’s almost a conversation.
I don’t know why I’m here. I’ve no idea. I think people are brought here to be killed. I’m scared to death. Death will come to me covering all my body. And I will be silent forever.
Once they give you an injection you instantly stop hearing voices.

Text: Interviews from the Benetton-Magazine “Colors”, Text arrangement: Thomas Larcher


Johannes Maria Staud: Für Bálint András Varga (2007)
For violin, cello and piano

Johannes Maria Staud’s striking, playful set of miniatures for piano trio is one of 12 works dedicated to Bálint András Varga, premièred by the Vienna Piano Trio at a special concert in Vienna in November 2007. The pieces all have a similarly short duration. The idea for this celebratory concert originated with Staud, whom Varga – as Promotion Manager at Staud’s publisher, Universal Edition - had nurtured from a very early stage in his composing career. Für Bálint András Varga has since received performances across Europe, inspiring Staud to create an extended version, which will be premièred next year.


Arnold Schoenberg (arr. Steuermann) Verklärte Nacht Op. 4 (1899)

Arnold Schoenberg (13 September 1874 to 13 July 1951) composed the string sextet in one movement, Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), Op. 4, within three weeks of meeting his future wife, Maria Zemlinksy, in September 1899. This complex and passionate work is considered the earliest of his most important pieces. It was first performed in Vienna on 18 March 1902. Composer and pianist Eduard Steuermann (June 18 1892 – November 11 1964) made a transcription for piano trio of Verklärte Nacht. Steuermann studied composition with Schoenberg and premiered several of his works for piano. In 1952 he was awarded the Schoenberg Medal by the International Society for Contemporary Music.