Leah Rankin | Staff Writer
For Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, there was no greater composer than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Tchaikovsky said he never felt so close to divinity as when he listened to Mozart’s music and even was so bold as to call Mozart the “musical Christ.”
The New Arts Trio will perform works by both of these composers at its last concert of the season at 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall.
Cellist Arie Lipsky said he especially is looking forward to this concert because in this particular Mozart Trio, K. 564, the cellist is featured in the foreground.
As Haydn was crafting his first string quartets, the cello played the part of “continuo,” similarly to the left hand of a piano player. Historically, it wasn’t until Beethoven wrote chamber music that the cello was much more than accompaniment.
“(With Haydn), the cello is still tagging along, and every once in a while he throws us a bone,” Lipsky said. “Thank you, Papa Haydn.”
Mozart was a little more daring in this piano trio, allowing the cellist to emerge as a soloistic instrument.
The second half of the program presents a trio in two movements by Tchaikovsky.
“Mozart and Tchaikovsky are often programmed together for contrast,” said Rebecca Penneys, chair of Chautauqua’s School of Music Piano Program.
The composer dedicated the work to a late friend of his, pianist Nikolai Rubinstein, who founded the Moscow Conservatory.
“In my opinion,” said violinist Jacques Israelievitch, “(Tchaikovsky) wanted to pay homage to Rubinstein for creating a learning institution. He wanted to show his own musical culture and skill stemming from his academic training.”
The second movement, therefore, showcases an amalgamation of waltzes, fugues and even hints at Klezmer music in a work that is almost symphonic in scope.
“Fugues are something composers aspire to write but don’t always succeed,” Israelievitch said.
Tchaikovsky wanted to show off everything he had learned throughout his musical education, and just like Mozart, Israelievitch said, the composer is wearing his heart on his sleeve.
It took Tchaikovsky quite a while to write this trio. Chamber music was not his forte, but the death of his close friend Rubinstein inspired him to compose the piece.
Although the work is only two movements, it is demanding for each of the three players. The musicians in the New Arts Trio call the work “a concerto for three instruments.”
After the piece is finished, Lipsky said, “You sit for another 10 seconds trying to grasp what just happened.”
Today’s program combines two composers that were of the same heart but centuries apart. It is a grand finale for the members of the New Arts Trio as they say farewell to Chautauqua until next year.
Donations for this concert benefit the Chautauqua Women’s Club Scholarship Fund.