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Catching Up

Hello all,

Welcome to QSCM 2019. We are looking forward to an amazing year with lots of new initiatives and more wonderful music for us all. We'll be talking about all of those over the next few weeks but this morning I am listening to Shostakovich, the PIano Trio No. 2 Opus 67 performed by the Ruby Trio featuring QSCM's spring concert artist Amahl Arulanandam playing cello with his colleagues Alexander Seredenko, piano and Terri Croft.

Amahl Arulanandam, Cello

You can listen in here: I'm just so excited by this music that I couldn't think of anything more important to share with you all as we kick off the New Year in classical music. Shostakovich is a composer of great depth and complexity, but also humour and vitality. My favourite moment in the recording I'm sharing here is at 5:30, where you will hear the end of the first movement move -- at 5:30 you hear the end of the first movement and the beginning of the second with the most remarkable effect on the piano. I swear I thought I was hearing the French Horn -- the trio involves only violin, cello and piano. And yet here the pianist plays these repeated chords on the piano in a way that evokes the open sound of the horn with a feeling of breath, rather than hammer hitting string (which is how the piano makes sound right?)

That is a function of the pianists's skill, with a doubt - kudos to Alexander Seredenko, but also the writing - go Shosty! You see that figure is prefaced by Amahl on the cello and Terri with the violin ending the first movement with sustained notes with harmonics which sets up the ear for Seredenko to bring on the French Horns! Harmonics - these appear throughout the piece. That's when the string player - violinist or cellist (violists and bass players an do it too!) touch the string in two places allowing on the highest part of the vibration produced to be heard. Also called "Flagelots" or "Glass Tones" they sound like what you get when you run your finger around the rim of a glass of water. It is an ethereal effect that does things to the ear. Hence the interesting effect on the piano sound that follows!

This is just one of the absolutely fascinating ways Shostakovich manipulates sound in his composition. The piano trio has so many interesting things going on it it, I could write about it all day! However, I don't know about you but I need coffee! And since I'm at home I have to make it myself. So I'll leave you now with one lovely piece of news to digest: Amahl will be performing Shostakovich with outstanding collaborative pianist Petya Stavreva in QSCM's Spring Concert, "Between Friends II", April 27 . This will be a Sonata Concert: Sonatas being the most friendly chamber music of all, often consisting of music written by one musician to be played with another, a close friend. Petya and Amahl have been good friends for many years. They have told me they thrilled to be able to share the joy of musical collaboration between good friends with all of you in the intimate setting of St. Paul's United Church where you, the audience can be as much a part of the music making as the players themselves.

Coming soon: interviews with both Petya and Amahl, and more on chamber music, sonatas, the cello and all things chamber music. SNEAK PEAK: Program, Between Friends II, April 27

Beethoven Sonata no. 4, Opus 102

Britten Cello Sonata Opus 65

Shostakovich Cello Sonata Opus 40

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