for Clarinet, Violin and Piano (1932)
for Clarinet Solo (1920)
for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 50 (1910)
“Spanish Flair” features piano trios by two Catalan composers—Trio in C Major for Violin, Cello and Piano (1926) by Gaspar Cassadó and Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 50 (1910) by Enrique Granados—and two additional early 20th century works: Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano (1932) by Aram Khachaturian and Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo (1920) by Igor Stravinsky.
The two Spanish composers, though a generation apart, had several similar influences on their compositional style. Both composers were renowned performers on their respective instruments, cello and piano, and both spent formative time in Paris. Another common influence is musicologist and composer Felip Pedrell, who encouraged young composers to find inspiration for their compositions in traditional Spanish music. Enrique Granados studied with Pedrell for a time, as did Manuel de Falla, who later influenced Gaspar Cassadó.
Aram Khachaturian was also very taken with the traditional music of his native Armenia. He referred to Tbilisi, where he grew up, as the “surprising city of sounds”—sounds of Armenian, Georgian and Azerbaijani folk melodies sung by street vendors and artisans; sounds of sadness and rejoicing in music at community and family gatherings; and sounds of colorful folk instruments accompanying the dances of the region. The influence of these sounds is apparent in the evocative and energetic Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano.
Another style of popular music, jazz, made its way into Stravinsky’s Three Pieces, from his early period. He wrote the three short solo clarinet pieces to thank philanthropist and amateur clarinetist Werner Reinhart, who assisted Stravinsky financially and underwrote performances of his works, notably L’Histoire du soldat. The Three Pieces exploit the clarinet’s plethora of sound possibilities, as well as its agility.
Orion’s 2011–12 season
Orion’s 2011–12 season continues in November with “Classical Romance,” including works by Beethoven and Schubert; in March, “Celebrating Women Composers,” with works by Stacy Garrop, Louise Farrenc, Phyllis Tate and Fanny Mendelsshon; and, in May, with “All That Jazz!” featuring special guest pianist Miguel de la Cerna, who contributes a work commissioned for Orion on a program that also includes a Fauré quartet and Dokshitser’s arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for clarinet and piano.
In addition to its annual four-concert series in three areas, the Orion Ensemble will appear on the broadcast series “Live from WFMT” December 5, 2011 and March 12, 2012 and in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Lunchbreak Series “Classical Mondays” October 31 and November 21, 2011. Orion also tours, performing in chamber music series across the country. Its most recent CD is Twilight of the Romantics.