Duo Parnas

Madalyn Parnas, violin
Cicely Parnas, cello

Tim Kantor, viola

Sunday, July 20, 2014, 4 pm

American Landscapes V: String Trio Masterworks


String Trio No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 9, No. 3 (1797-1799) Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Allegro con spirito
Adagio con espressione
Scherzo — Allegro molto e vivace

The Companion Guide to Rome (2010)
Andrew Norman (b. 1979)

1. Teresa
2. Benedetto
3. Susanna
4. Pietro
5. Ivo
6. Clemente
7. Lorenzo
8. Cecilia
9. Sabina


Serenade in C for String Trio (1902)
Ernst von Dohnányi (1877-1960)

Marcia (Allegro)
Romanza (Adagio non troppo)
Scherzo (Vivace)
Tema con variazioni (Andante con moto)
Rondo (Finale)


next week
Saturday, July 26, 6:30 pm

Zuill Bailey, cello; Natasha Paremski, piano

The World of Richard Strauss: Kindred Paths

Music of Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, and Richard Strauss

Sunday, July 27, 4 pm

Latitude 41 Piano Trio

American Landscapes VI: Platt and Dvořák
Music of Schubert, Dvořák, and Russell Platt


Program Notes © 2014 by Miriam Villchur Berg*


Madalyn Parnas, violin, and Cicely Parnas, cello, perform together as Duo Parnas. The ensemble earned first prize in the International Chamber Ensemble Competition at Carnegie Hall. They have performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Israel, including the Composers Now, Music Mountain, Banff and Lachine music festivals in Canada and Tanglewood and the ProQuartet Festival in France.

The duo has performed Saint-Saëns’s La Muse et le Poète with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic under Randall Fleisher, the El Paso Symphony Orchestra under Lawrence Loh, and the Albany Symphony Orchestra under David Alan Miller, with whom they also played Vivaldi’s Double Concerto for Violin and Cello. Their recordings include Gare du Nord, which was named on Gene Gaudette’s “Top Ten New Releases of 2010.”

The New York Times said of Madalyn, “Ms. Parnas gave a fiery account of Lutoslawski’s “Subito” … and negotiated this [technical] minefield with assurance and vigor, but she also seized the opportunities offered by this changeable score’s lyrical interludes and fleeting touches of humor.” She has been a featured performer at Zuill Bailey’s El Paso Pro Musica Festival, has appeared as soloist with the New York String Orchestra under Jaime Laredo, and has performed with Sharon Robinson, Maxim Vengerov, Peter Wiley, and Daniel Phillips. Ms. Parnas performs on a 1715 Alessandro Gagliano violin.

Cicely is recognized for bringing “velvety sound, articulate passagework and keen imagination” to her performances (The New York Times). As first-prize winner of the 2012 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Cicely made her Carnegie Hall debut performing the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto with the New York String Orchestra under the baton of Jaime Laredo. She has performed with the Vermont Symphony under Jaime Laredo and toured France. Ms. Parnas performed in the 2013 Young Concert Artists Festivals in Tokyo, Beijing, and Wuhan. She won first prize in the 2011 Cello Concerto Competition at Indiana University, and she was the inaugural Young Artist in Residence on NPR’'s Performance Today series. Ms. Parnas performs on a 1712 Giovanni Grancino cello.

The Parnas sisters are granddaughters of the renowned cellist Leslie Parnas, who studied with both Gregor Piatigorsky and Pablo Casals, had a distinguished career as a concert cellist, and was the principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Violist Tim Kantor has performed as a soloist with the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra in Maine and the New Music Ensembles at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Indiana University. He graduated with honors from Bowdoin College and has a master’s degree from Curtis, and he has performed many recitals at both institutions.

Tim’s festival highlights include Cascade, Aspen, Taos, and Zephyr in Italy. As a chamber musician, he has participated and performed at the Juilliard Quartet Seminar, the chamber music residency at the Banff Centre, and the St. Lawrence Chamber Music Seminar. His former string quartet, in which he played both violin and viola, was selected for the prestigious Quartet in the Community residency at Banff. Kantor is a member of the Kuttner Quartet, in residence at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, where he is pursuing a doctoral degree studying with Jaime Laredo. He also performs in several orchestral and chamber ensembles in the Cleveland area, including regular performances with the Cleveland
Pops Orchestra.





In 1792, at the age of twenty-two, Ludwig van Beethoven traveled to Vienna to study with Haydn. Beethoven told his new teacher that he didn’t have enough money, so Haydn sent a letter to the Elector of Cologne in Beethoven’s hometown of Bonn, including some of the music Beethoven had supposedly been writing under Haydn’s tutelage. The Elector wrote back that he had already seen these pieces before Beethoven left Bonn, and young Ludwig was caught in his lie.

Beethoven greatly admired Haydn, however, and spent time copying out movements of both Haydn’s and Mozart’s chamber music in order to study them. But apparently the interactions between Haydn and himself were not conducive to a productive teaching and learning experience. Haydn was known for his good-natured amiability; Beethoven, on the other hand, was moody, introspective, and somewhat antisocial. It is not surprising that their tutoring arrangement was unsuccessful.

Beethoven found other teachers, but also perhaps knew best how to educate himself, since he set about mastering each musical genre in a systematic way. He started with combinations of just two instruments in his cello sonatas (op. 5), and then published a set of three string trios (op. 9) before moving on to his first string quartets, which in turn preceded his first symphony. Even in as early a work as the String Trio in C Minor, Op. 9, No. 3, Beethoven’s unique emotional expressiveness is already evident.

The Allegro con spirito is intense and angst-ridden. Its setting in C minor, the same key as his later Fifth Symphony, connected it for the composer with powerful feelings. The strong four-note descending theme pervades the movement, continually bringing the listener back to weighty matters despite the intermittent flights of major-mode fancy.

Beethoven moves to C major for the slow movement (Adagio con espressione), both for variety and to avoid the possibility of a dirge-like effect. But even in the major key, halting phrases give the music a hesitant and melancholy feeling.

The Allegro molto e vivace is the scherzo, back in the minor key. A dotted meter, strongly syncopated lines, and a repeated strident chord make this a lively but somewhat sinister dance. The central trio changes the mood with an uncomplicated major tune, but keeps the dotted rhythm, making a smooth transition back to the scherzo.

The initial ornament is an essential part of the theme of the finale (Presto), and it serves as one guidepost for the listener in following Beethoven’s development of his motifs. Contrasts between simple and decorated lines, between staccato and legato phrases, and once again between major and minor modes give this movement an interesting complexity. The work ends with a pianissimo coda.

Andrew Norman is a contemporary composer of chamber and orchestral music. He calls himself “a lifelong enthusiast for all things architectural,” and writes music that is inspired by forms and textures he encounters in the visual world. He has received commissions from major orchestras around the world, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and his chamber works have been featured at the Tanglewood, Aspen, and Juilliard festivals. His string trio, The Companion Guide to Rome, was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in music. The composer writes: “Like many of the buildings in Rome, this piece is the product of a long gestation marked by numerous renovations, accretions, and ground-up reconstructions. What has emerged is a collection of portraits—nine in all—of my favorite Roman churches. The music is, at different times and in different ways, informed by the proportions of the churches, the qualities of their surfaces, the patterns in their floors, the artwork on their walls, and the lives and legends of the saints whose names they bear. The more I worked on these miniatures, the less they had to do with actual buildings and the more they became character studies of imaginary people, my companions for a year of living in the Eternal City.”

Hungarian Ernö Dohnányi used the German form of his name, Ernst von Dohnányi when publishing music. The “von” denotes nobility, which was conferred on him by his third marriage. He was an internationally renowned pianist, conductor, and composer, whose oeuvre included works for stage, orchestra, chorus, piano, and chamber ensemble. In the face of Nazi pressure, he disbanded his orchestra rather than dismiss the Jewish members. After the war, he settled in Tallahassee as pianist and composer-in-residence at Florida State University. Although he was a Romantic composer in the mold of Brahms and Schumann, he championed the music of his more avant-garde Hungarian compatriots, Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály.

Taking a cue from the Classical model of the open-air concert known as a serenade, Dohnányi starts the Serenade for String Trio in C Major, Op. 10 with a March (Allegro), although the syncopation would make for some tricky footing. Above the steady march beat, Dohnányi honors his ethnic roots with a distinctively Eastern European air. Like so many genres of music throughout history, the form lives beyond its specific function, and becomes a framework through which a composer can create an evocative atmosphere.

The Romanza (Adagio non troppo) utilizes each instrument both individually and as part of the ensemble. The song is passed from viola to violin, and the movement ends with a quiet chord. Brahms was an admirer of Dohnányi, and his influence can be heard in the lush harmonies.

In the Scherzo (Vivace), Dohnányi plays with counterpoint, making the imitative entries seem like a chase. The calmer Trio section is a string duet, with the cello at first plucked and then bowed. The Theme and Variations (Andante con moto) is typical of those found in a traditional, Classical serenade. Despite the small number of instruments, Dohnányi provides a wealth of different treatments of his theme.

The Finale is a Rondo (ABACA). The Rondo theme (A) is strongly accented and syncopated. The episodes in between (B, C, etc.) vary from lilting to rustic. At times, all three instruments are playing double or triple stops, giving this small grouping an unexpectedly full sound.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg. It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy,  publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at miriam@hvc.rr.com. Program Notes © 2014 by Miriam Villchur Berg