Arutiunian, Martinu, Schubert
Suite for Clarinet, Violin and Piano (1992)
Sonatina in C Major for Clarinet and Piano (1957)
Trio in B-Flat Major for Violin, Cello and Piano
Op. 99 D898
The program features one of the gems of the chamber music repertoire, Franz Schubert's Trio in B-Flat Major for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 99, which the composer wrote during the last years of his life (1827-8). The first movement contains a beloved melodic theme, possibly based on Schubert's song "Des Esingers Habe"; the second movement showcases the cello, with the string parts resembling a vocal duet; the third movement contains two popular Viennese dances of the time, the ländler and the waltz; and the fourth movement combines a rondo with a theme and variations, much like the composer's Trout Quintet. Considered one of Schubert's greatest chamber masterpieces, the work is also a favorite of Orion.
Also a late-career work, the Sonatina in C Major for Clarinet and Piano (1957) by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu uses a wide array of lyrical melodies and styles. The three movements, played without a break, are technically challenging and feature the diatonic Moravian folksong-derived harmonies that are hallmarks of his style. A prolific composer of more than 400 works, Martinu gave the clarinet a prominent role in only three, including this Sonatina, which brilliantly displays its rich tonal, musical and technical language. Elements of Czech folk music are found in his music, along with the influences of jazz, Debussy, Stravinsky and Albert Roussel, with whom he studied in Paris. Toward the end of his life, he moved away from the neoclassical influence to a looser, more spontaneous form.
Concluding the program is Armenian composer Alexander Arutiunian's 1993 Suite for Clarinet, Violin and Piano, which expands the violin-clarinet-piano repertoire to include another exciting work based on folk music, reminiscent of Bartok's "Contrasts." Like Martinu, Arutiunian made use of Baroque forms in his work, and like Martinu, his prolific output draws from his own ethnic musical heritage. The inspiration of the ashug, an 18th-century Armenian minstrel, is widespread for Arutiunian, and his music is lyrical and expressive. In recent years, he has tended toward more classical forms. He also has scored several films.