Trio Cleonice

Trio Cleonice

Trio Cleonice

STUDIO 700 | 700 HAMILTON STREET | Google map
Doors at 7:00 PM | Concert at 8:00 PM

TICKETS|$39/$15 (regular/student) General admission seating.

Ari Isaacman-Beck, violin
Gwen Krosnick, cello
Emely Phelps, piano

among the most accomplished piano trios now before the public.

Bernard Jacobson, Seen and Heard International

Trio Cleonice is the young, dynamic, and musically thrilling piano trio who won the 2014 John Lad Prize, which honours emerging chamber ensembles. The prize is awarded by the St. Lawrence String Quartet in collaboration with Stanford University’s Stanford Live and Music on Main.

The trio is making their Vancouver debut on April 19 with a fantastic, vibrant programme showing how great classical music can be. Come and meet other classical music fans, and make some new friends at the same time.

It’s your one and only chance to hear Trio Cleonice live in Vancouver. Don’t miss out!



Joseph Haydn
Piano Trio No. 43 in C major, Hob, XV:29
1. Allegro
2. Andante
3. Finale: Presto

Donald Martino
Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano (2004)


Felix Mendelssohn
Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor, Op. 66
1.    Allegro energico e con fuoco
2.    Andante espressivo
3.    Scherzo: Molto allegro quasi presto
4.    Finale: Allegro appassionato


programme notes

Piano Trio No. 43 in C major, Hob. XV:27 (1797) Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Haydn’s piano trios are the first works for this combination of instruments: the very beginning of the rich and wonderful piano trio repertoire we know now, hundreds of years later. In this work, the Hob. XV:27 C major Trio – fairly late in Haydn’s output and yet so remarkably early in the history of the piano trio – we watch with delight and surprise as Haydn explores the yet-endless possibilities. Haydn chooses a large-scale sonata form for the first movement (later, at his hand, this becomes absolutely standard for the genre – but it wasn’t, yet!), and fills it with his signature magic: irresistible motivic wit, creative transitions from one harmony to the next, and a cozy, beautifully warm sense of the home key of C major. The second movement, set in a lilting 6/8 meter, is a gentle song form; yet in the middle of it all, Haydn sweeps us into an evil storm scene where, for a moment, the vocal writing feels closer to high-drama Italian opera than to the sweet baroque-feeling tune where we began. The Presto finale is a brilliant, joyous close: full, as in the other movements of the piece, of wild choices of counterpoint on Haydn’s part, of clever rhythmic magic, and of a sense of virtuosity in every interaction between the instruments.

At every point throughout this piece – in Haydn’s every move in this great C major trio – we feel the rumblings of a revolution. And the trio, as it wildly forges ahead in this new frontier – this crazy, novel idea of combining the violin, cello, and piano – is a treasure: from the warm-hearted first movement through the dance-like elegance of the second, right into the exhilarating, gleefully dangerous finale.

—Gwen Krosnick, November 2015


Trio for violin, violoncello, and piano (2004) Donald Martino (1931-2005)

Donald Martino is one of the great American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries: a master of lyricism, humor, complex polyphony, and rhythmic delight. His music is deeply evocative and vibrantly his own: it is Italianate, quicksilvered, and gorgeously melodic; it is hot-tempered at times, dramatically complex, and changes mood at the drop of a hat.

Martino’s Trio, which is from the year before he died, shares with us his unique sense of harmony: though it is, in a sense, jaggedly atonal (in the tradition of his teachers, Roger Sessions and Milton Babbitt!), Martino’s language feels intensely, romantically chromatic more than it feels serialized. One can almost connect the piece to scenes of a Verdi opera: though they are worlds apart, they share certain wonderful compositional traits. The considerable rhythmic complexity in this music is always in motion – never static; the tunes are romantic, demonstrative, and often divided inventively between voices; and the scene changes are quick and irresistible. In the first minutes of the piece, we see a capricious recitative that uses the expressive range of each instrument; we see a dreamy tune in the violin and cello (a soprano and tenor duet within moments, when the curtain parts!); we see staccato, playful gestures leap around the stage as the real rhythmic complexity begins. The Trio, which is in one large movement, follows and delights in these scenes – these deeply evocative, often thorny, always lyrical scenes; and Martino’s voice shines through vividly, with a sense of lyric beauty, vulnerability, and volatility – it is music that is beautifully, familiarly human.

My Dad, Joel, who – after many string quartet and solo cello performances over the course of my life – is at least somewhat responsible for my ecstatic love of Don Martino’s music, made me smile on the phone the other day, as we talked about what makes Martino Martino. “The music,” he said, “is not angular: it has its angles, but it sings through them. It’s complex because it’s made of flowing, emotional, Italianate lines that are divided up; but it’s singing music.” Indeed, through all the wild rhythms, fierce technical demands for each instrumentalist, and all else, we have the sense that Martino is writing tune after beautifully-chromatic tune – and that all this great complexity is ultimately at the service of great romanticism, poetry, and lyricism.

—Gwen Krosnick, November 2015