david finckel (cello) & wu han (piano)
Duo Programs - 2020/21 season
I. The Russian Cello
Shostakovich: Sonata for Cello and Piano in d minor, op. 40 (1934)
Lera Auerbach: "Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 69 - composed for DFWH (2002)
Rachmaninov: Sonata for Piano and Cello in g minor, op. 19 (1901)
The cello's range - from bass to high tenor and beyond - endows the instrument with the perfect timbre for Russian music. From the somber tone of Russian men's choirs to overtly expressive singing of its opera soloists, the Russian voice is broad, deep and gripping. In this program of Russian cello-piano classics from three eras, no emotion is spared: the timeless nostalgia, passion, joys and sorrows that give Russia its powerful cultural identity are heard in abundance.
II. French Feast
Debussy: Sonata in d minor for Cello and Piano (1915)
Saint-Saens: Sonata No. 2 in F-Major, Op. 123
Debussy: Nocturnes and Scherzo for Cello and Piano
Cesar Franck: Sonata for Cello and Piano in A-Major
This unique program reveals the great affinity that French composers had for the cello. Spanning the half-century that bridged the Romantic, Impressionist and Modern eras, essential French qualities emerge: the deep dedication to tradition and craft that lends intensity and rigor to the works of Saint-Saens and Franck; the fervent nationalism (in the wake of France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War) that led composers such as Debussy to describe himself as "A French Musician"; and the ethereal, ephemeral harmonies and textures that imbued music of the Impressionist style with the same luminescence as the era's painters.
III. The Immortals
Bach: Sonata in D-Major for Viola da gamba and Keyboard, BWV 1028
Beethoven: Sonata for Cello and Piano in A-Major, Op. 69
Brahms: Selected intermezzi for solo piano from Op. 118
Brahms: Sonata in E-Minor for Cello and Piano, Op. 38
A trio of musical titans forms a cello-piano duo program of invincible integrity, incomparable quality, and deeply satisfying sonic grandeur. Bach's contribution to the cello literature is beyond comparison, and his parting gesture to the viola da gamba of three sonatas is now cared for enthusiastically by cellists worldwide. Beethoven's five sonatas cover his entire creative span, and his third in A major sits at the heart of his spectacular "heroic" period. No composer better expressed the nostalgia of the turn of the century than Brahms, who at the time of these wistful Intemezzi was witnessing the decline of 19th century culture, a culture celebrated beyond comparison in his first cello sonata, an homage to Bach, that closes this most fervent of recitals.
IV. Ludwig van Beethoven: The Five Sonatas for Piano and Cello (1796-1815)
About the Beethoven Cycle program, David Finckel and Wu Han comment: “We’ve mentioned more than once that if we did not have these five great sonatas from the composer we revere above all others, that we might not even be playing duos! That is how essential we consider these works, not only to our professional lives but to our inner selves as musicians. There is no substitute for learning these pieces if one hopes to be a serious cellist, especially on the recital stage. We are happy that we learned and recorded them early in our career, as they have taught us much about music and about ourselves along the way, and they continue to be an irreplaceable facet of our musical lives. It has been a joy for us to share this cycle with audiences on three continents through performances of it in every season so far in our career.”
Please advise with your preferred program and we will confirm with the artist.
Trio programs for 2020-21 season
(with Philip Setzer, violin)
Program 1: Russian Landscapes
Rachmaninoff: Trio Elegiaque, No. 1
Shostakovich: Trio No. 2 in E-Minor, Op. 67
Tchaikovsky: Trio in A-Minor, Op. 50
Certainly one of Russia’s most powerful and memorable features is its vast landscape, which is depicted throughout its music, literature and visual arts with stunning vividness. The landscape presented in this program however is a cultural one, as the Russia of Shostakovich’s time was indeed hugely changed since the days of the Tsars. The program begins with the rarely-heard miniature of Rachmaninov – not the most familiar of chamber music composers – but here he gives the repertoire a gem that captures the Russian spirit from its first entrancing notes. Shostakovich then transports us to the 20th century and the age of Stalin, when oppressed and threatened artists created with a courage and energy that produced some of history’s most powerful testimonies to their age. And to recall the grandeur of a bygone age, the program concludes with Tchaikovsky’s epic Trio, composed in memory of his teacher Nikolai Rubinstein. The longest and most difficult of all piano trios, the work is a Mt. Everest for every ensemble to climb, but the emotional rewards for both listeners and players are incomparable.
Program 2: From Haydn
Haydn: Trio in D-Minor, Hob XV:23
Beethoven: Trio in D-Major, Op. 70, No. 1 (“Ghost”)
Dvorak: Trio in F-Minor, Op. 65
In a program which traces the evolution of the piano trio, from the epicenter of Viennese classicism to the age romantic nationalism, a crescendo of sonic breadth and emotional intensity creates palpable excitement. The program’s title indeed pays tribute to Haydn, the father of the symphony, the string quartet and the piano trio, whose inexhaustible creativity paved the way – and set the bar high – for Beethoven to inherit his mantle in the early 19th century. Dvorak’s turbulent and touching trio in f minor can be heard as his tribute to his advocate Brahms, such is its richness of texture and traditional structure. Dvorak’s inimitable lyricism and melting harmonies make the trio’s slow movement, opened with a gorgeous cello solo, one of chamber music’s most popular works.
Program 3: Beethoven Journey
Trio in Eb-Major, Op 1, No. 1
Trio in D-Major, Op. 70, No. 1 (“Ghost”)
Trio in Bb-Major, Op. 97 (“Archduke”)
Beethoven’s creative journey was music’s most dramatic and consequential, as the fiercely independent composer wrestled not only with musical concepts but also his encroaching deafness and family turmoil. This program samples the three high points of Beethoven’s stylistic evolution, from his earliest published compositions, filled with brash confidence, to his middle “heroic” period, in which appeared his most popular works such as the 5th Symphony, and his so-called “late” period, in which Beethoven miraculously ventured into music’s future. Representing that final style of composition is his magnificent “Archduke” Trio, his final piano trio,which, although composed considerably before the Beethoven’s twilight years, breathes the same rarified air as his immortal late string quartets.
Please advise with your preferred program. Some additional combinations from the above may be possible upon request and with approval by the trio.