Pianist Orion Weiss makes his Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra debut this weekend, playing Beethoven's Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano — better known as the Triple Concerto.
"The Beethoven concerto is sort of like on the cusp of chamber music, like how the Mozart concertos were where you all play together. It could be a piano quartet that just sort of gets expanded. This concerto, it's got everything. It's got piano trio moments. It's got solo moments for all three instruments. And then it's unique, hilarious and sort of an inspired piece."
Unique, inspired and hilarious! You have to agree with pianist Orion Weiss: the Beethoven has everything. Beethoven wrote it to show off his most famous student, Archduke Rudolph of Austria. Rudolph was only 15 or so, and the story goes that Beethoven wrote hugely difficult parts for the strings, giving the piano a — shall we say? — more straightforward role that sounds maybe a bit harder than it actually is.
But that hasn't kept huge personalities of the past from elbowing each other out in performances, vying for the starring role and to steal the limelight. But Orion Weiss will play with an old friend from high school days, cellist Julie Albers, and his new pal, violinist Ruggero Alafranchini. They are all virtuosos, but Orion says they are having fun with a work that is less concerto and more piano trio with orchestra on the side:
"It sort of takes you by surprise every time. It's fun. It's really fun and I think that's sort of the main thing, it's fun to listen to, fun to play and he's always playing with audience expectation of 'what did you expect seeing three soloists sitting there', who plays first, how do they interact. How do they respond to each other. Beethoven makes it into this theatric, dramatic experience almost. I think this piece will put a smile on everybody's face, I think, and lift your spirits."
Also on the program, the Catalyst Quartet, founded in the Sphinx Organization, make their debut playing a work by Catalyst violinist/composer Jessie Montgomery. Called "Banner," it's a kind of concerto grosso for quartet and strings that reimagines "The Star Spangled Banner" and includes songs of struggle and freedom from all Americans. The orchestra will also perform an orchestral concerto by Alberto Ginastera.
Join host Classical MPR host Alison Young on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 2 p.m., for the live broadcast of this Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra concert.
Concert ProgramJESSIE MONTGOMERY
Banner for String Quartet and Chamber Orchestra
Catalyst Quartet, string quartet
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Triple Concerto for Piano, Violin and Cello
Orion Weiss, piano
Ruggero Allifranchini, violin
Julie Albers, cello