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Piano Trio No. 1

for piano trio

Year:  2002   ·  Duration:  9m
Instrumentation:  piano, violin, cello

Year:  2002
Duration:  9m
Instrumentation  piano, violin, cello

Composer:   Daniel Stabler

Films, Audio & Samples

Sample Score

Sample: pp3-4,7-8,12-13,15-16

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Piano Trio No. 1 is in three sections.

Section 1 - Bars 1 to 25 The haunting opening theme gives a sense of imbalance and cross rhythm. This, combined with polytonality and energetic counterpoint typifies the wide scope of disparate expression contained in this work. The simple opening figures gain momentum and complexity in bar 2, then slow and slower until the robust introduction of the first of the round themes at bar 4. Varying degrees of counterpoint are juxtaposed in the succeeding phrases, along with the exploitation of three distinct themes in alternating patterns of rounds. The momentum is then diffused, winding down with trills and running semi-demi-quavers into the low bass of the piano alongside ponticello effects in the strings. Unexpected harmonies and intense flourishes are balanced across the timbre of the ensemble. Ultimately runs of harmonic glissandi mark the end of the opening section. The ending purposely engenders a sense of perplexity, of not knowing what next to expect.

Section 2 - Bars 26 to 67 Misterioso Bars 26-40 mark the first sub-section, followed by the second, bars 41 to 53 and the third, bar 54 to 67. Various devices, such as sequences and pauses are implemented to cause the momentum to surge and ebb. The different melodies and underlying contrapuntal fragments are in constant interplay throughout each sub-section. Each individual sub-section has a differing tone and timbre as different ideas come forth and are contemplated. The third section comprises a great fugue which is a quadruple rhythmic elongation of the primary theme from section three ('Calypso') that follows. This is treated in four parts contrapuntally, one of which is retrograde to the others. The rhythm gains momentum toward the end of the fugue to propel you into the third section.

Section 3 - Bars 68 to 158 'Calypso' This lively, quick-paced, rambunctious section is hallmarked by virtuosic writing for all the instruments. Though not exactly in the style of a true Caribbean 'calypso', the repeated syncopation pattern in the piano gave rise to this title. Elaborate contrapuntal juxtapositions of past themes, with differing harmonies, clash and bounce off each other in a frenzy. The momentum is fuelled by the compelling refrain which first occurs at bar 94 and repeatedly in a chorus at the conclusion of the finale.

Contents note

  1. Opening
  2. Misterioso
  3. Calypso

Performance history

15 Aug 2003: Performed by Katherine Austin (piano), William Hanfling (violin), James Tennant (cello); Gallagher Concert Chamber, University of Waikato, Hamilton

17 Sep 2003: Performed by Katherine Austin (piano), Dmitri Atanassov (violin), James Tennant (cello)

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