More Than One Piano Trio Rocks

Traditionally speaking, a piano trio is an ensemble of piano, plus two other instruments. The plus two are usually violin and cello, or some closely related cousin of these conventional stringed pieces. The mention of a piano trio most always references classical chamber music, too, and more often than not denotes an ensemble of artists who regularly perform this repertoire together.

Okay, simple, and brief, but you should have the picture at this point about what makes up a piano trio, and with this in mind, let’s move away from the 19th century and Beethoven’s piano trio works and glide into the millennium with a keen eye to what’s happening today in this art form.

First up, there’s the Manhattan Piano Trio. The critics refer to this group as “a grand departure from the usual.” Since its start in 2004, this piano trio and its creative, dynamic, and exciting sound has been heard in venues from concert halls in New York to Arizona’s Chamber Music Sedona to the Clark Memorial Library at UCLA.

Leaving the U.S. in 2008, the Trio traveled to South Africa and played recitals in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town.

The 2009 season finds the Piano Trio performing in smaller venues across Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Oklahoma. Wherever they go the group is praised for its musical maturity and sophistication, which remains in keeping with the group’s international and national reputation.

If it’s passion you thrive on, it’s passion you get with this Piano Trio, particularly in its zeal for contemporary music. Whether its works takes a retrospective look at the music of Juilliard composers or it brings the lesser-known arrangements of famed European artists to the forefront, audiences worldwide applaud the trio’s diversity and dedication to this classical style.

The group’s members include Wayne Lee, violinist, who is originally from San Francisco, Dmitry Kouzov, cellist, who grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Milana Strezeva, pianist, who is a native of Chisinau, Moldova. Quite the international flair!

Another Piano Trio group that continues to hit the scene hard and furious is the Mendelssohn Piano Trio, which was formed in 1997 and named after the renowned 19th century composer. The founding group all studied under famed artists Earl Carlyss and Ann Schein.

From inception, this Piano Trio began to pick up a loyal following because of its performance style—a rare combination of close-knit collaboration and individual talent. Add to this the fact that the trio’s repertoire spans works from all period’s of the genre’s past and it quickly becomes evident the collective experiences of the group’s members.

Ya-Ting Chang, the group’s pianist comes from Taiwan; Peter Sirotin, violinist, hails from Russia; and Fiona Thompson, celloist, is from England. This Piano Trio has played before audiences in a wide range of venues nationwide and abroad, including art academies, universities, colleges, and music festivals, in addition to being guest artists in an international radio feature of Voice of America.

"Unfathomably beautiful", "transcendent" and "electrifying", is how The Washington Post describes the trio’s Brahms cycle of ensemble music.

Accolades have become commonplace for this Piano Trio. The trio’s recordings on Centaur Records have been praised by The American Record Guide and Fanfare magazines. A performance at the National Gallery of Arts was broadcast on NPR’s “Performance Today.”

Because of both of these groups, and the many more that perform this genre, the piano trio is alive and well today, a trend that looks bright for the foreseeable future, too.

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