Step on it, maestro
While classical quartets labor to become one unified voice, piano trios have the specific freedom of being bold musical individuals. As Timothy Baker, violinist for the Amadeus Trio, put it:
“We play in a big style. So we’re able to really, if we have to, put the pedal to the metal. In a quartet, you have to be careful. You can’t step on it.”
The Amadeus Trio will be stepping on it twice at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek Friday, first at 10 a.m. for Eagle County school children and again at 7 p.m. for the general public. Proceeds from the evening performance go to the Buckman/Blount Community Fund.
Baker is joined by pianist Marian Hahn and cellist Jeffrey Solow.
“We all really like the trio literature,” said Baker. “I love the sound of the piano and I think Jeffrey does, also. And in the trio, although you’re playing chamber music and blending, you’re also retaining your individual voice. Since we’re all soloists at heart, it works for us.”
Baker plays on one of the four “Guitar” violins made by Stradivarius. His dates back to 1726, and is the only one known to still exist. Shaped like a guitar, it doesn’t have the corners violins usually have. Though each violin sounds different, there’s something special in the sound of this one that speaks to the musician.
“It has a dark quality,” he explained. “It’s just full bodied. I like dark chocolate, things that are rich that you can sink your teeth into.”
Having the last “Guitar” could be a lot of pressure on a person – especially being a musician who travels frequently, case in tow.
“These violins are made to be played,” he said. “And when they were made, they weren’t thought of as museum pieces. They still aren’t.”
During the morning performance, the trio will perform a show titled “Around the World in Music.” They’ll take the youngsters on a musical trek around the globe, educating them along the way.
“They’re our future audience,” said Baker. “And given there have been so many cuts in funding for arts programs across the country, we think it’s vitally important to expose kids to this music.”
While he was growing up, Baker remembers watching Bernstein’s concerts on the television,.
“And there was a lot more music in the schools, a lot more music,” he said. “And a lot more programs for the arts, too, and it’s just not the same anymore. And unfortunately, it’s really troubling.”
Which is why the trio is frequently found bringing music to children. They like to make their programs interactive, asking questions and demonstrating melodies. Teaching is something that comes naturally to the musicians, as Hahn and Solow are college professors – she at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival and he at Temple University. Baker used to be a professor, but has recently made the transition to private lessons.
“I enjoy teaching, it forces you to examine your own playing,” he said.
At the 7 p.m. performance, the music will be completely different – though children are welcome. They’ll partake in the musical adventures of Joaquin Turina, an early 20th Century Spanish composer. Baker described Turina’s Trio in B Minor as a short, sweet piece.
“There’s a sparkling virtuosity coupled with a French transparency in it, but he does all of these things within a Spanish flavor,” said the violinist. “It’s a beautiful piece.”
Four short works follow, including Brahms’ Hungarian Dance and Moszkowski’s Spanish Dance. The performance concludes with Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio. It was this work that had Baker effusive and excited in his comments.
“And in the last movement of this piece there’s the Doxology,” he said. “First, he uses it in such an ethereal way. Then it comes back in the movement in such a blazing fashion that it’s thrilling. I always tell the audience that in about 24 minutes they should feel free to join in. I don’t think Martin Luther ever imagined it would sound quite like that.”
With a promise like that, nobody will be sneaking away early.
Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.