Piano Trio #2
For Piano, Violin and Cello (2016)
by Ron Hannah


Duration: about 14 minutes    

     Following the 70th birthday concert of my chamber works, at which the last movement of my first Piano Trio was played, it was suggested to me that I should write some more in this genre. Actually, it has been suggested more than once over the years, and finally I have done so! I was given a further nudge in that direction from having recently heard and met the Khatchaturian Trio in Yerevan, Armenia. They are superb players and I wrote with them in mind, and so here is a challenging work that will provide them, and any other good players, with lots of rewards should they decide to play it.

The first movement is very Romantically charged, with rich harmonies, dense textures and broad melodies. To be sure, it is in my style of dissonant tonality, sometimes very chordal and traditional and sometimes, when I felt it was appropriate, most strikingly dissonant. Composers of previous centuries would utilize the techniques and language of older composers, adding freely to them in their own more modern styles, and so do I. I have come to regard tonality/atonality and consonance/dissonance as merely expressive devices, and I think modern audiences are coming to a similar acceptance. Just listen to certain movie scores (Freddie Kruger, for example) and you will soon come to see why audiences are more open to new musical sounds!

     The second movement is the one that might give this trio a nickname, "The Armenian". In writing, ealier this year, a theatre piece based on the life of St. Gregory (The Illuminator) of Armenia, I came across a lullably called "Ruri, Ruri" and fell in love with it. I used it of course in that work, and have set it once more here in this trio - and also for mixed choir. There are various renditions of this song onYoutube, quite different from one another. I have chosen the 5/4 version to which this link with take you, and others may be heard by following the links there.

     The last movement is a circus polka, energetic to the point of mania, and requiring a strong left hand on the part of the pianist. This section should be great fun for any players who can hack it! It gets its inspiration from the Shostakovich Piano Concerto #2, one of whose movements starts fast and furious and just keeps growing. I decided to do that, and you can decide how successful I was...

     Computer-generated versions of each movement can be heard by clicking below, and the score can be downloaded too. Send me an email and I'll send you the parts, with the sole stipulation that you inform me of any performances so that I can keep this website up-to-date. Score and parts are also obtainable through the Canadian Music Centre.