Seraphim Trio

Friday, 1 May 2020 at 8pm

Anna Goldsworthy (Piano), Helen Ayres (Violin) and Tim Nankervis (Cello)

Programme

MOZART Piano trio in E major, K 542

BEETHOVEN  Piano trio in G major,  Op 121a,  Kakadu Variations

INTERVAL

BEETHOVEN Piano trio in B-flat major, Op 97, Archduke

About the Artists

The Seraphim Trio is one of Australia’s pre-eminent piano trios. Over their twenty four years together, the members of the Seraphim Trio - Helen Ayres (violin), Anna Goldsworthy (piano) and Timothy Nankervis (‘cello) - have established a reputation for performing with finesse and impeccable quality.  They are well known to Australian audiences through their concert series, radio broadcasts, recordings and solo appearances.

Read more about the artists.

Programme Notes

The Seraphim Trio's  concert features three of the greatest and best-loved works in the piano trio repertoire. In a fitting tribute to the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth the Trio  will perform his "Archduke" trio and "Kakadu Variations", complemented by Mozart's wonderful K 542 piano trio. These are works that have powerful grandeur, noble themes and rich drama, expressed with an emotional warmth and humanity that is truly uplifting.

Mozart   Piano trio in E major, K 542

Allegro / Andante grazioso / Allegro

Around the time of the composition of Mozart’s last three symphonies (summer, 1788), the composer was greatly prolific.  Among the works he wrote at this time are three piano trios, K 542, K 548 and K 564. Mozart's great biographer, Hermann Abert, considers that these works are “not of quite the same high level” as the string divertimento, K 563, completed within the same five-month period, “even though they are all entirely worthy of their creator”. This trio in E major was completed just before Mozart wrote the first of his last three symphonies. He sent the work with several others to his sister, asking her to invite Michael Haydn to St Gilgen to play it for him, writing "I am sure he will like" the work.

In a fashion common to all of Mozart's last three piano trios, the principal theme of the opening statement is offered by the piano alone before being enriched and enlarged by all three instruments. The second movement is a rather melancholy rondo  that is dominated by its transparently simple main theme.

The final movement starts with an allegro theme which, after being repeated, reaches a fugato. Then, as if Mozart realises that the music is becoming somewhat restless, he begins a simpler, gentler theme through whose development the movement nonetheless attains its stability and unity.

HC Robbins Landon says that this "is perhaps Mozart's greatest piano Trio".

                                                                                                                             M.C.

BEETHOVEN  Piano trio in G major,  Op 121a,  Kakadu Variations

Programme notes for his work will be available nearer to the concert date.

BEETHOVEN   Piano Trio in B- flat major Op 97, Archduke

Allegro moderato/Scherzo (Allegro)/Andante cantabile, ma però con moto – Poco più adagio/ Allegro moderato

Beethoven composed the ‘Archduke’ Trio during 1810-11. It was a period of his life when, at the age of 40 a proposal of marriage to the niece of his physician had been rejected and his deafness was becoming an increasingly devastating impediment.  The Trio was given its first public performance in 1814 at a charity concert in Vienna, with Beethoven himself as the pianist. It was evident that his performance ability was in decline and after a repeat of the performance a few weeks later Beethoven did not appear in public again as a pianist.

As Grove’s Dictionary observes, Beethoven’s new concern in the sonatas and chamber works of his middle period was lyricism which inspired such major works of a different character as the Piano Sonata in F sharp Op. 78, the ‘Archduke’ Trio and the Violin Sonata Op. 96. Beethoven had never written such beautiful slow movements as he now wrote for the ‘Harp’ Quartet, the ‘Archduke’ Trio and the Fifth Piano Concerto, completed in 1809.

The first movement of the Trio is an expansive sonata form of majestic proportions. R.H. Schauffer considers the second movement, a witty scherzo, “one of the master’s foremost contributions to this form of his invention”. The slow movement (andante cantabile) contains some of Beethoven’s most movingly beautiful and otherworldly music.  The movement is a set of four variations, with the theme, one of Beethoven’s noblest melodies, containing deep organ harmonies. The movement’s coda is characterised by an ecstatic recitative. The slow movement leads straight into the ebullient finale, a sonata rondo with an extended Presto coda.

Rudolph Johann Joseph Rainer, Archduke of Austria (1788 – 1831) was the youngest son of Emperor Leopold II of Austria. Rudolph inherited an interest in the arts from his Hapsburg ancestors and  completed serious music studies.  He had piano and later composition lessons from Beethoven. He was originally intended for a military career but, perhaps because of his ill health, went into the Church and became a Cardinal and Archbishop.  Rudolph assisted with Beethoven’s financial needs from 1809, which continued to Beethoven’s death in 1827 and a sincere friendship developed between the two over many years.  Beethoven dedicated a total of fourteen works to him including the Fourth and Fifth Piano Concertos, ‘Fidelio’ and the Missa Solemnis. It is a fitting legacy that one of Beethoven’s greatest works should bear the Archduke’s name.

                                                                                                                             R. C.