East Meets West at Triple Helix’s concert at Rivers School Conservatory, 3 pm, Sunday, January 31


Triple Helix returns to Rivers School Conservatory on Sunday, January 31, to perform the following works:

• Bright Sheng: Four Movements for Piano Trio
• Arno Babadjanian: Piano Trio
• Johannes Brahms: Piano Trio in Bb, Op. 8

This performance, held in Rivera Hall, will begin at 3 pm, with a pre-concert lecture at 2 pm.  The concert is free and open to the public.   Rivera Hall is located at 333 Winter St, Weston, MA 02493.

The Vocal Impulse: East and West 

                  World famous golden-thighed Pythagoras
                  Fingered upon a fiddle-stick or strings
                  What a star sang and careless Muses heard.
In “Among School Children,”  William Butler Yeats expresses a notion shared by many poets throughout the ages: the primal creative impulse was a vocal one.  Some composers, whether writing for voice or instruments, manifest as well an essentially lyrical impulse in their work.  Such a predilection shows itself in certain characteristics, regardless of the particular musical style: the rhythm, compass, flow and shape of the lines endow them with a natural “singability.”  Even more important, by virtue of some ineffable alchemy, music conceived lyrically possesses the eloquent fragility of a direct, individual human utterance, unmediated by mechanistic considerations.  Instrumental virtuosity serves a lyrical premise.  The landscape is one of human scale, and grandiosity is eschewed.
This afternoon’s program features music which derives from such a vocal impulse.  Bright Sheng, drawing on the rich folkmusic heritage of his native China, transforms a Western piano trio into an exotic palette of aural colors, and conjures the diaphanous yet also savage world of Chinese song.  Rooted in an aesthetic that considers melodious music as an ideal conduit between man’s sound nature and the universal sound order — and therefore as a way to reach higher states of consciousness — music is deeply valued within traditional Chinese culture for its capacity to instill an inner tranquility that fosters virtuousness.  In this context, it is no great surprise that the Chinese ideograph for “music” also means “happiness”!  The mystical, meditative, spare melodic writing, particularly in movements 1 and 4 of the Sheng, does indeed give us a taste of the music’s capacity to convey unalloyed spiritual essence.
Arno Babadjanian, an Armenian composer, distilled the essence of his indigenous musical tradition — in terms of its exotically-flavored scale formations, rich, harmonic colors, and assymmetrical dance rhythms — to create an intensely dramatic and poignant lyricism in his rarely-heard piano trio.
Brahms’s Op. 8 Trio epitomizes his penchant for long-lined lyricism wedded to a grand but terse symphonic structure.  A buoyant elan, a sense of organic unfolding, and rhythmic innovation — freeing the music from the fetters of squareness — characterize Brahms’s melodic writing, the seeming naturalness of which belies his perfectionistic tendencies.