From Brahms to Ravel: Guest Music Trio Performs Pieces From All Eras

With short, distinct bow strokes, Mari Nagahara, a cellist, played a quick and spirited melody from Johannes Brahms’s “Piano Trio No.1inBMajor,Op.8.”Allofasud- den, she paused, and John Gibson ’15, a pianist, proceeded to echo the same melodic phrase. Then, Sammy Andonian, a violinist, also began to echo the same melody as the instruments finally combined to play the melody together, creat- ing a sense of urgency in the piece. Toward the middle of the piece, the song transitioned into a sweet tune that crescendoed into a majestic harmony between all three instru- ments, culminating in a smooth, harmonious high note.

“My favorite piece [to play] was the Brahms trio. We picked it last year; we worked on it for a very long time, and it’s a piece I hold very dear to my heart,” said Gibson. “When Sammy initially suggested it, I was kind of against it; I really wanted to play the Tchaikovsky trio. But the more I listened to it, the more I listened to each move- ment very carefully, I realized there’s not a moment of this piece where I don’t love. And with that in mind, there’s no contest that this is my favorite piece.”

“Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major, Op. 8” was one of the three pieces per- formed by Trio Adonais, a music group made up of Andonian, Naga- hara, and Gibson. The group had been invited by the Music Depart-

ment to hold a concert.
Nagahara and Andonian opened

the concert with “Sonata for Violin and Cello” by Maurice Ravel. An- donian began the piece by playing a series of high notes on his violin and Nagahara followed, mimick- ing the same melody. The piece transitioned from being energetic and lively to somber and rueful, in- corporating a variety of bow tech- niques ranging from intense piz- zicatos, notes where the string is plucked rather than bowed, to rich, lengthy bow strokes. As the perfor- mance reached its climax, Naga- hara and Andonian played using quick, aggressive bow strokes, the song rapidly climbing in volume, pitch, and speed, before concluding with one full bow stroke and a res- onating, plucked chord from both instruments.

“[For] the Revel, because there is no piano that has such a huge range, such a huge instrument that play so many things, Mari and I, on these tiny string instruments, have to make up for that and have to fill in all those open holes,” said An- donian. “Especially where there’s only two of us playing that means both of us are going to have to be playing a lot of the time. There are no breaks…so it gets really tiring. It’s just very technically difficult, I mean, the Revel is all over the place. [There’s] a lot of extended tech- nique, a lot of really high stuff, real- ly low stuff, really jumping around, so for me, certainly, the Revel was the most challenging.”

The trio also performed “Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 63” by Robert Schumann. Composed of four movements, the piece took a journey through a range of differ- ent emotions and moods. The first movement contained many chop- py bow strokes, injected with short periods of light-hearted and flow- ing high notes, creating moments of calm amongst a fierce and pow- erful melody. The second move- ment featured an energetic, repeat- ing melody of short, staccato notes followed by long bows that gradu- ally increased in sound and depth, with the piano and string instru- ments alternating throughout the piece to create a sense of dialogue

between the three instruments. The third movement took a more somber mood, beginning with a melancholy note from the violin as the piano played minor chords in accompaniment. The three musi- cians all worked in harmony to cre- ate a wistful mood. Andonian and Gibson repeated the initial melodic phrase to close the movement. The fourth movement contained many different melodic phrases with graceful bow strokes, creating a majestic and glorious tune.

“I like the Schumann mainly because of how it really shows how Schumann as a person was so in turmoil all the time, and it really expressed how he was feeling his entire life before he had to be sent off to a mental institution,” said An-donian. “He had a really troubled life, and it was really cool to see that piece because it really showed it really well. In the first movement, he’s really in turmoil. It’s really ag- gressive, and he’s really feeling it. Then, [in] the second movement, he’s off in his own world for a little bit, and he’s happy. And then the third movement is really depress- ing and [in] the fourth movement, he’s back at it, so it really showed [his different mental states] really well.”