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

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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.

     At the time of writing however, to my knowledge they have not. Instead, it was premiered in Vienna in May of 2019, on the occasion of Andrea Mellis' 70th birthday. She is a singer/director, and she put together a most memorable program featuring songs and arias performed by some of her students, many of whom have gone on to forge professional careers at places like the Vienna State Opera. She also did me the honour of premièring my song set, "Tumble me Down", and this trio. She also happens to be my wife, so perhaps some bias is showing.

     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 gives this trio its nickname, "The Armenian". In writing, in 2016, a theatre piece based on the life of St. Gregory of Armenia (known as "The Illuminator"), I came across a lullably called "Ruri, Ruri" and fell in love with it. I used it of

 Hear 3rd Movement





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 on Youtube, 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 some of 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...

     An informal recording of that furious 3rd movement may be heard by clicking in the "Go" box above. Score and parts may be obtained by sending me an email (below), with the 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.


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