VERA KOOPER // HOPE
Vera Kooper first became transfixed by Beethoven’s music in her teens, playing his piano works with increasing devotion, regarding them as a “manual for life”. For Vera Kooper, “Beethoven’s music is endlessly rich in its range of human expression and a timeless testament to humanity in all its facets.” Beethoven frequently dug deep to find courage and perseverance in the face of adversity, and as Kooper describes in her Artist Statement, included in the album booklet: “He wanted his music to be a voice of hope for mankind. The title of this album is inspired by my favourite German phrase, ‘Die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt’: ‘Hope is the last to die’.”
Alongside the famous ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, with its vividly nocturnal opening movement, lilting central movement and breathless finale, we hear Beethoven’s skill with variation form in his 32 Variations on an Original Theme (WoO 80) and perhaps his first piano sonata masterpiece, the D major Sonata, Op. 10, No. 3. Kooper includes a modern twist in her programme with contemporary American composer John Corigliano’s Fantasia on an Ostinato, a work based on the famous repetitive idea from the second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. The album concludes with Vera Kooper’s own transcription of Beethoven’s song, An die Hoffnung, Op. 32, a song of longing in which the melancholy tone is cut through with hope. As Beethoven himself said: “Hope supports me, it is hope that feeds half the world and during my life I have always had it for a companion, or what would have become of me?”
DELTA PIANO TRIO // THE MIRROR WITH THREE FACES
The Delta Piano Trio enjoys a special relationship with composer Lera Auerbach. Whilst searching for contemporary repertoire the group fell in love with Auerbach’s piano trios, performing them regularly and, after writing to her about them, enjoying the opportunity to work on this music together with the composer. This experience has given these musicians a unique insight into Auerbach’s piano trios.
The title of this CD was inspired by Auerbach’s second piano trio, Tryptych – The Mirror with Three Faces (2012). The work, which is at the heart of this disc, follows the physical construction of a hinged mirror, and Auerbach speaks of it in terms of a theatre piece in which three individuals have their own separate stories but are part of a single entity. Yet there is an ambiguity about the reflection in the mirror –is it three facets of the same person, or three separate images?
Auerbach’s Piano Trio No. 1 is one of her earliest works, with fascinating allusions to 19th- and 20th-century musical traditions, yet with the addition of very specific effects which imbue her music with a unique spectrum of colours. The influence of Shostakovich is audible in Auerbach’s Piano Trio No. 1, and this disc opens with Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2. The opening movement is a paradoxical combination of rigorous counterpoint and ethereal harmonics, followed by a more forceful, rustic and ironic second movement. A mournful passacaglia follows, and the work concludes with a haunting ‘Dance of Death’.
DELTA PIANO TRIO // TANEYEV & BORODIN
Naxos Records, one of the world’s leading classical music labels, released a cd with pianotrios of Russian composers Taneyev and Borodin, performed by the Dutch Delta Piano Trio. The relatively unknown trios of these great composers haven’t previously been released by the label and for the Delta Piano Trio this marks their debut on CD.
The highly romantical Piano Trio Op. 22 by Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915), student and close friend of Tchaikovsky and teacher of both Scriabin and Rachmaninov, is characterized by a subtle use of counterpoint, lyrical expressivity and virtuosic fireworks. Alexander Borodin (1833-1887), a composer, doctor and chemist, was a member of the ‘Mighty Handful’, a group of Russian prominent composers who aimed to incorporate more Russian musical influences in their music and were less influenced by the Western European composing tradition. Glinka saw Borodin’s unfinished, but brilliant pianotrio as a model of a new style of typically Russian music.