What luck. This summer the Clavier Trio will fill three concert slots in the Music in the Mountains calendar.
For starters, anyone who has crammed into Roshong Recital Hall on the Fort Lewis College campus to hear the trio now can luxuriate under the festival tent.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, the trio will give the first of a pair of concerts featuring works by Anton Arensky and Franz Schubert. At 6:30 p.m. Friday, violinist Arkady Fomin, pianist David Korevaar and cellist Jesús Castro-Balbi will repeat the unusual program at Bootjack Ranch in Pagosa Springs.
Toward the end of the festival, on July 28, the Clavier musicians will perform a newly crafted program in our little jewel-box of a recital hall, Roshong. Titled "Transfigured Night," the concert will feature works by Schubert, Schönberg and Mendelssohn.
The "Night" program will receive subsequent airings, primarily at Weill Hall, New York City's recital jewel-box inside Carnegie Hall, and, of course, in Dallas, where Clavier is the resident chamber group at the University of Texas.
Ever since the trio's inception in 1997 (at Music in the Mountains, by the way), the popular ensemble has been a key ingredient in the MITM schedule. Every time Clavier has played Roshong, which seats 135, it's been packed. Latecomers were handed folding chairs and sat "on stage," as it were.
Well, somebody noticed Clavier's popularity, and now the trio has a double bill - festival tent and recital hall.
The Thursday-Friday concert pair has been given one of those cliché titles, "Passionately Romantic," which is redundant, but it fits. Fomin and company have chosen two big 19th century works, one familiar and beloved, the other lesser known but equally romantic and emotionally rich.
In an interview earlier this week with Fomin and Korevaar, more light was shed on Anton Arensky's Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 32.
"If you know Russians," Fomin said, "they know how to have a good time. And they get their share of bad times, too. Arensky's piece has both, the high points and the low."
Arensky had illustrious credentials, Fomin and Korevaar said. Born in 1861 in Novgorod, that ancient Russian city, he studied in Moscow, was a student of Rimsky-Korsakov and, as a composer, fell under the spell of Tchaikovsky's music.
"Arensky wrote this trio as a memorial to a colleague, cellist Karl Davidov," Fomin said. "If you want to hear great music, go to the funerals of great people."
Korevaar added: "Memorial trios are peculiar to Russian composers. Tchaikovsky wrote one for his mentor. Rachmaninoff wrote one for Tchaikovsky, and we're playing Arensky's memorial for his friend."
Davidov was a child prodigy who toured extensively and became a professor of cello at the Leipzig Conservatory. Tchaikov-sky called him the "Czar of Cellists." At age 50, during a performance of a Beethoven sonata, Davidov collapsed. He died a few days later, hence Arensky's deeply moving memorial trio to honor a friend and colleague. It's all very Russian, Fomin said.
"The second movement (a scherzo) is light, a remembrance of better times," Fomin added.
"I think it takes place in a cabaret." Korevaar said. "I have to say, it's brilliant piano writing, and I think friends, Arensky and Davidov, are getting drunk in a cabaret."
In contrast, the third movement is an elegy, Korevaar said, a beautiful adagio, a final tribute.
Fomin said he has wanted to program this work a long time, and this summer's festival seemed to be a good opportunity.
The second half of the concert will feature Schubert's Piano Trio in B flat major, a work well loved, often played by Clavier, and the lead piece on the ensemble's second CD, "Schubert and Café Music." Volumes could be written, and Korevaar calls it one of the three greatest piano sonatas ever composed.
"Schubert was the first composer to treat the piano the same as the strings," Korevaar said. "You'll hear the piano play the melody for the first time while the strings are busy with other material."
In addition to creating new musical textures and treating the instruments differently than was traditional, Schubert also expresses a deep joy in life, Fomin said: "The slow movement in particular is Schubert's 'Ode to Joy,'"
And if you listen closely, Korevaar said, the whole movement is a brilliant fugue.
"The piano sets up the melody, then the cello picks it up, and the whole structure, the whole movement is a fugue," he said. "Brilliant writing."
Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at Jud_reyn@yahoo.com.