• East-West Piano Trio (Photo - Jean Sudbury).

      East-West Piano Trio (Photo – Jean Sudbury).

      The East-West Piano Trio gave a romantically reminiscent concert on Sunday, March 26.

      By Jean Sudbury

      This season is the commemorative of 20 years for the wonderful concert series. The concerts are presented by The Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, and individuals from the community of South Pasadena. We are fortunate to have the gift of live music so close to home.

      Ben Powell-Violin, Cecelia Tsan– Cello, and Bryan Pezzone-Piano are each shining stars in the galaxy of musicians. When they perform together, it is pure magic. Their concert took the appreciative audience on a journey, a time travel of 146 years of romance.

      Robert Schumann wrote the first piece on the program, his first piano trio, in the key of D minor, the saddest of all keys, so they say. The piece was written in 1847, and Schumann was going through some traumatic times. He had given up hopes in becoming a virtuoso pianist, and his trauma is illustrated in the piece. It begins simply and melodramatically, using chromatic melodies. Every once in a while, there are moments of glimmering hope. The piece evolves into a Mephisto waltz, which concludes in a very heroic style. The third movement begins, like the first, simply, toying with the minor third and the tritone. It ends in the dominant, bringing us into the last movement which is somewhat triumphant. It leads us to a happy ending, yet there is still a troubled feeling in the mood.

      Dmitri Shostakovich Trio #1 in C Minor was next on the program. This piece, written quite some time after the Russian Revolution, has a mysterious beginning, as did the Schumann trio. The chromatically descending line is a classic death motif. It develops into a two-step dance, maybe a Russian Polka. These moods travel back and forth. A Macabre dance evolves from this, with haunting beauty. As the trio progresses, Shostakovich, while dabbling with the late romantic styles of classical music, finally ends the piece heroically.

      Cecelia and Bryan performed a romantically beautiful rendition of the Theme from Schindler’s List, written in 1993 by John Williams. Then, Ben and Bryan played Misty, written in 1954, by pianist, Erroll Gardner. Stephane Grapelli adopted this wonderful piece into his repertoire, and the Grapelli flavor was effervescent in Ben and Bryan’s performance.

      East-West Piano Trio musicians with the audience (Photo - Jean Sudbury)..

      East-West Piano Trio musicians with the audience (Photo – Jean Sudbury)..

      The last piece on the program was written in 1888, by Edvard Grieg. Although his style was based on German-romantic tradition, he managed to throw in a strong feeling of Norwegian folk music in his compositions. The Peer Gynt Suite was written for a play, and it might be the most well-known work written by Grieg. The hauntingly romantic melodies and rhythms evoke that Nordic culture.

      After grateful applause from the audience, the trio performed an encore. They chose a piece written by Gabriel Faure, a French composer who lived right around the turn of the 20th century, from 1845 to 1924. This piece was originally written for 4 voices and piano. The music brought the concert to a wonderfully romantic ending.

      The beauty of live music performance is that whatever the music is, whenever, and wherever it was written, the performers bring the music to the here and now. Thank you, East-West Piano Trio, for this magical musical journey.

      > Next month: Mojave Trio
      4:00 pm
      South Pasadena Public Library


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