Thursday, December 06, 2007

Ravel, Beethoven and Handel

Today, the Icicle Creek Piano Trio, an ensemble of faculty from the Icicle Creek Music Center, performed Maurice Ravel's Piano Trio at the Sherman Clay Piano Studio. The Trio was composed in 1914 and had its debut in 1915. In typical Ravel fashion, he created a transparent, inventive piece requiring a high level of virtuosity for the piano, violin and cello.

Early on, Ravel struggled with the piece. France's entry into World War I, and Ravel's desire to enlist in the army, motivated the composer to finish the work.

The work unfolds over four movements and adheres to established forms. The first movement takes the sonata-allegro form, the second is a playful "French" scherzo, the third movement is a passacaglia, and the fourth movement is a brisk, passionate finale.

The Icicle Piano Trio gave a crystalline performance of the work, with equal attention to Ravel's passion and precision.

The night before, the Rain City Symphony, Seattle's "opportunity orchestra," put on their fall concert. The orchestra advertises itself as an auditionless, community orchestra which gives amateur musicians the chance to play in an orchestral setting. The orchestra performs three concerts each season.

The orchestra is lead by Teresa Metger Howe. Howe is a local fixture, leading the Rain City Symphony and the Bellevue Youth Symphony. Previously, she taught music at the Lakeside Upper School.

On the program was Handel's Music for Royal Fireworks and Beethoven's Consecration of the House Overture.

Fireworks was composed to commemorate the installation of an arch in London's Green Park. To make music suitable for the event, Handel originally conceived Fireworks for a large contingent of brass and woodwinds. Unfortunately for listeners, Handel modified the orchestration for more manageable proportions.

Like Fireworks, Beethoven's Consecration of the House Overture is associated with an event. The overture was premiered along with Beethoven's paradigm changing Ninth Symphony.

The Rain City Symphony provides a helpful vehicle for musicians to perform popular, orchestral favorites.

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