Award-winning trio graces the recital hall stage


Photos courtesy of the Weiss Kaplan Stumpf Trio

The trio brought the world premiere of Paul Lansky’s “Angles” alongside stunning renditions of two Beethoven piano trios.

Hope Brusstar, Editor-In-Chief

 A blend of traditional and modern visited the Performing Arts Center last Wednesday evening in the form of pianist Yael Weiss, violinist Mark Kaplan and cellist Peter Stumpf, widely acclaimed members of the Weiss Kaplan Stumpf Trio.

Amidst rainy weather and a small timing gaffe advertising the performance to be at 7 p.m. rather than 7:30, about 50 people populated the recital hall to hear three pieces, including the world premiere of Paul Lansky’s “Angles.”

With a composing style thoroughly steeped in electroacoustic music, Lansky brought forth several different “textural or procedural” angles in this piano trio. “Angles” was the modern piece hugged on both sides by two of Ludwig van Beethoven’s piano trios, Trio in C Minor, Op. 1 No 3 and Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 70 No. 2.

“[Lansky] spent a lot of his life writing for electronic instruments,” said Kaplan to the audience after the trio finished the first piano trio. “I think it’s a wonderful piece.”

“Angles” is divided into four movements: “With Pluck,” “Take a Bow,” “About a Minute Waltz,” and “A Sad Song.” “With Pluck” was steadily underlined by a constant, one-note beat given by the piano, fulfilling Lansky’s description that there is “virtually no use of the pedal.”

“Take a Bow,” which may be a reference to the violin’s implement, was thoughtful and gave the feeling of something coming to an end. “About a Minute Waltz” was exactly that, and was likely intended as the scherzo of the piece, cheerful and playful as it was.

“A Sad Song” finished the piece with gentle harmonies that built into phrases with greater tension, like a slow cry that quickens into a panting, deranged sobbing. Like a mourner, it grew gradually calmer and more accepting of the strife that was presented earlier in the movement. It closed with more hopeful, or at least peaceful, thoughts of recuperation.

The room always fills with splendour when Beethoven’s music plays. It would be impossible to decide which of his two trios were more impressive, but as always, the composer brings an unmistakable presence to the stage. The Trio in C Minor presented bold, cunning melodies with strong voices. Though romantic, it was neither sweet nor sorrowful, but rather determined and hurried.

Its final movement, “Finale: Prestissimo,” was as dramatic as its name might imply. There is a tragic burst, and an ineffable movement of the whole piece that shoves aside everything in its way, demanding the listener’s full attention. Clever and self-assured, this is a piece everyone must hear at least once, and which the Weiss Kaplan Stumpf Trio presented with perfection.

The Trio in E-Flat Major began with a slow hum, demonstrating what “bated breath” might sound like in musical form. After one strong stroke of the violin, all the musicians went studiously to work, producing a pretty, right-angled piece, featuring several moments of call-and-response between the piano and the strings.

The Musical Excursions series brings renowned classical musicians to UNO throughout the academic year. The next performance this season will be the Akropolis Reed Quintet on March 21 from 7-8 p.m. according to the UNO website. Said the music department chair Charles Taylor of Akropolis’ performance of Gershwin’s “An American in Paris,” “You could swear an entire orchestra was on stage when they perform.”