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Piano Trio

Instrumentation: piano, violin, cello
Duration: 18:00
Year Composed: 2005
  1. Allegro risoluto
  2. ELEGY. Largo sostenuto. Andante furioso.
  3. DANCE. Andante ben marcato e tempo giusto. Adagio.

Audio Samples

I. Allegro (opening)

II. Elegy (opening)

III. Dance (opening)


Program Notes

The first movement is an Allegro risoluto in sonata form. The exposition introduces two contrasting theme groups in quick succession: a rapid and incisive five-note figure in D minor; and a more expressive falling-fifth and a repeated-note figure, in the relative major. In the extensive development, the first theme makes numerous appearances in various guises, inverted, augmented, fragmented, and mined for its rhythmic and pitch content. In its triple-augmented form, it evokes the catacombs, and with rhythmic displacement, takes on a jocular character. Throughout, the motive's many transformations are juxtaposed in a contrapuntal jigsaw puzzle. The unrelenting flow of development is challenged and interrupted by three quasi-improvisatory sections featuring a strand of contradictory tempo or unmeasured notation set against the movement's steady pulse. The recapitulation features a reworking and extension of the second, expressive, theme, this time more lyrical and on the tonic pedal. The coda recalls the first theme and concludes precipitously in F.

The second movement, Largo sostenuto, is an elegy with a dark and brooding character, but not without some moments of sweetness, perhaps nostalgia. It opens in the distant mode of C-sharp phrygian, but its stark counterpoint sends it on an unstable path of continual modulation. The tension explodes in the concluding transition section, Andante furioso, that establishes the tempo and key of the third movement, which follows without break.

The third movement, Andante ben marcato e tempo giusto, gradually resolves the accumulated tension of the preceding two, first with a lively dance. The two-bar dance phrase, in irregular metre, is an original theme, although inspired by the music of the Romani people of Central and Eastern Europe. Every entrance of the theme, as it passes from instrument to instrument, suggests a solo dancer stepping into the centre of a circle, encouraged on by the group that dances a syncopated accompaniment. The dancers eventually disperse and the dance's rhythm seamlessly dissolves into the concluding Adagio, a calming coda sustained by a repeated-note E-flat pedal in the piano's low register. The elegy theme is recalled in more positive light before the movement thins out to a single E-flat in the piano bass.


Performances

  • May 14, 2016—Musica Camerata, Luis Grinhauz et al
    Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur (Montréal)
  • Mar 31, 2009—Gryphon Trio
    COC Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Toronto
  • Jan 28, 2008—Gryphon Trio
    Walter Hall, University of Toronto
  • Jan 19, 2008—Musica Camerata, Luis Grinhauz et al
    Redpath Hall, Mcgill University (Montréal)
  • Mar 31, 2007—Canadian Sinfonietta Chamber Players, Michael Esch et al
    Heliconian Hall, Toronto
  • Jan 22, 2006—CBC Radio 2 broadcast on "Music Around Us" (Keith Horner)
  • Aug 2, 2005—Denise Djokic, Renée-Paule Gauthier, Peter Longworth
    Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival

Reviews

"Robert Rival (b. 1975) may be known in Canada, but certainly not here—and that's a pity. His three-movement 2005 Piano Trio, though hardly cutting edge, proved intriguing for such a tonal work. The outlying movements were journeys that took unexpected turns, from spicy and modal to overtly tonal, with the finale incorporating a dancing quality. The slow movement, Elegy: Largo sostenuto, proved riveting. Opening with the expected warm elegiac lyricism, it grew dissonant and passionate. Rival's trio proved a real pleasure with the Camerata's sympathetic and convincing performance."
—Jim Lowe (Times Argust, Vermont), May 17, 2016
"In three movements, [Piano Trio] displays a good command of form, and is immediately appealing."
— Richard Todd (Ottawa Citizen)
"... a three-movement [Piano Trio] thoroughly worked out in a purely classical idiom."
— Arthur Kaptainis (The Gazette, Montreal)
"Tonal, avec forme-sonate affirmée, le long Trio en trois mouvements que l'Ontarien Robert Rival composa à Saint-Henri en 2005 rappelle Chostakovich par son intensité."
— Claude Gingras (La Presse, Montréal)
"The opening Allegro risoluto was substantial and powerful in a Brahms-like way, its drive insterspersed by moments of lyricism. The slow movement, Elegy: Largo, was very moving ... The finale, Dance: Andante, ... was full of dance rhythms, spiced by unexpected moments ... Throughout, the writing was largely tonal but with interesting rhythmic juxtapositions."
— Jim Lowe (Times Argus, Vermont), 2008

Score Perusal & Parts

For score perusal and parts information, contact Robert Rival.