Han Finckel Setzer trio

Han Finckel Setzer Trio – Season 69

April 4, 2017

Han Finckel Setzer Trio
Tuesday April 11, 2017 – 8:00 pm
Vancouver Playhouse

Han Finckel Setzer Trio
Wu Han, piano
David Finckel, cello
Philip Setzer, violin

Violinist Philip Setzer is a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, which has received nine Grammy Awards, three Gramophone Awards, and an Avery Fisher Prize, and has performed cycles of the complete Beethoven, Bartók, and Shostakovich string quartets in the world’s musical capitals, from New York to Vienna. “The Noise of Time,” a groundbreaking theatre collaboration between the Emerson Quartet and Simon McBurney, about the life of Shostakovich, is based on Mr. Setzer’s original idea. As a soloist, he has appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Aspen Chamber Orchestra, and also with the National, Memphis, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Omaha and Anchorage Symphonies. He has also participated in the Marlboro Music Festival. Mr. Setzer is a tenured Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at Stony Brook University and has given master classes at schools around the world. He has been a regular faculty member of the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Workshops at Carnegie Hall and the Jerusalem Music Center. Mr. Setzer studied violin with Josef Gingold and Rafael Druian, at the Juilliard School with Oscar Shumsky, and also studied chamber music with Robert Mann and Felix Galimir.

In 2012, David Finckel and Wu Han received Musical America’s 2012 Musicians of the Year award, one of the highest honours granted by the music industry. They pursue multifaceted endeavors as concert performers, recording artists, educators, artistic administrators, and cultural entrepreneurs. The duo appears each season at prestigious venues and concert series across the United States, Mexico, Canada, the Far East, and Europe to critical acclaim. In addition, David Finckel served as cellist of the Grammy Award-winning Emerson String Quartet for 34 years. In 1997, David Finckel and Wu Han launched ArtistLed (www.artistled.com), classical music’s first musician-directed and internet-based recording company. Together, they have also overseen the establishment and design of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s acclaimed CMS Studio and CMS Live labels, as well as the Society’s recording partnership with Deutsche Grammophon; and the much lauded Music@Menlo LIVE label, now in its thirteenth season.

Now in their third term as Artistic Directors of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, David Finckel and Wu Han hold the longest tenure as directors since Charles Wadsworth, the founding Artistic Director. They are also the founding Artistic Directors of Music@Menlo, a chamber music festival and institute in Silicon Valley in its thirteenth season. In 2011, David Finckel and Wu Han were named Artistic Directors of Chamber Music Today, an annual festival held in Korea, and under the auspices of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Wu Han and David Finckel lead the LG Chamber Music School, which serves dozens of young musicians in Korea annually. Along with their chamber music studio at Aspen Music Festival and School, they are passionate in their commitment to nurturing the careers of countless young artists. David Finckel is Professor of Cello at The Juilliard School, and Artist-in-Residence at Stony Brook University.


Piano Trio in B flat, Opus 97 (Archduke)  Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Allegro moderato
Scherzo: Allegro
Andante cantabile, ma pero con moto
Allegro moderato

Beethoven dedicated this piano trio to Archduke Rudolph, younger brother of the Emperor Leopold II who, in 1808, had offered Beethoven a salary of 4000 gulden to remain in Vienna. By 1811, after Napoleon’s invasion of Vienna, the economic status of the aristocracy was greatly diminished, as was Beethoven’s salary. Society was changing. Middle class professional musicians were replacing aristocratic amateurs and public concert halls were replacing aristocratic salons. Suffering financial distress as well as near total loss of hearing, Beethoven completed this trio in March 1811. He played the piano part himself at the premiere on April 11, 1814, in what was to be his final public performance.

The Allegro moderato opens with a smooth majestic theme presented by the solo piano. Expanding to include the strings, the opening theme continues in unison until it flows into the second theme, three elongated phrases in G major. The development, divided into three distinct sections, is alternately sprightly and demure. The movement then glides into the recapitulation which features a slightly embellished version of the opening theme, and ends in a brilliant coda.

Instead of the conventional slow movement, a lively and disarmingly naive Scherzo in B flat comes next. It is cast in a highly imaginative form. The Trio introduces a striking chromatic passage which contrasts with bursts of a waltz melody. The movement subsides delicately, hovering almost motionless on the tonic.

The Andante, with its undercurrent of strength and vivacity, is one of Beethoven’s most beautiful slow movements. Consisting of four extended variations on an exquisite hymn-like melody, the movement would be expected to conclude with a simple restatement of the theme, but, after the fourth variation, the theme falters, detours, and weaves its way through a sequence of key changes, before attaining a transcendent conclusion.

The Finale follows without pause – a pastoral romp in rondo form which impudently intrudes on the serene, otherworldly atmosphere of the Andante. The movement features a skipping B flat major refrain, which is repeated and reworked five times. Increasing in momentum, the final refrain simplifies the theme and brings the work to a brilliant conclusion.


Trio in E-flat major, Op. 100 (D. 929)  Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Andante con moto
Scherzo: Molto allegro quasi presto
Allegro moderato

In 1827, inspired by his friendship with three musicians who had formed a piano trio, Schubert composed two piano trios in a few weeks. The second trio, Opus 100, Schubert’s personal favourite, was performed as the major work at the only public concert devoted entirely to his music during his lifetime. This concert took place at the Vienna Musikverien on March 26, 1828, the year of his death. Published a month after his death, the trio was dedicated “to nobody but those who find pleasure in it”. It was an overwhelming artistic and financial success.

The goal of unifying extended movements seems to have been on Schubert’s mind at the time of writing this Trio. The opening Allegro involves four thematic ideas. It begins with a bold dramatic unison statement that is followed by a counterstatement based on a three-note motto, which is presented by the cello. The concluding theme combines the rhythm of the opening with the melodic content of the counterstatement to create a soulful melody of ineffable beauty.

The Andante, which possesses the melancholy tone of a Nordic ballade, is based on a Swedish song, Se Solen Sjunker, that Schubert heard sung by a Swedish tenor, Albert Berg, in Vienna in 1827. Over a march-like piano accompaniment, the cello sings the melody, which is repeated by the piano. Then, the violin leads the transition to a second musical idea that is based on the descending octave leaps near the end of the principal theme. The rest of the movement grows from these melodies, rising to peaks of ethereal loveliness.

The Scherzo, one of Schubert’s best, is an imaginative canon. The main theme, which is light and delicate, has an appealing swagger. This theme is followed by a heavier trio that resembles a stomping dance.

A giant movement, the sprawling final Allegro is both elaborate and ingenious. It opens with a graceful tune played by the piano alone and then by the violin. A contrasting, haunting second theme with Hungarian overtones follows in which each note of the melody is repeated four times, giving it a ghostly effect. Schubert then modifies and interweaves the two themes. The masterstroke of the movement, however, is the return of the Nordic theme of the Andante, played by the cello. A superb moment, it is a forerunner of the cyclical principle used later by both Brahms and César Frank.


The Vancouver Playhouse
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Centre
(Clarinet, Piano & Strings)
Tuesday May 2, 2017

Béla Bartók
Contrasts for violin, clarinet & piano, Sz.111, BB116
Dmitri Shostakovich
Trio for piano & strings in E minor, Opus 67
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Quintet for clarinet & strings in A major, K.581


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