Piano Trio No.2 Tryptych – The Mirror has Three Faces

Composer: Lera Auerbach (b. 1973)
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Composer: Lera Auerbach (b. 1973)

Performance date: 30/06/2019

Venue: Bantry Library

Composition Year: 2012

Duration: 00:22:26

Recording Engineer: Ciaran Cullen, RTÉ

Instrumentation: vn, vc, pf

Instrumentation Category:Trio

Artists: Delta Piano Trio (Gerard Spronk [violin], Irene Enzlin [cello], Vera Kooper [piano]) - [piano trio]

Lera Auerbach [born 1973]

Piano Trio No.2 Tryptych – The Mirror has Three Faces [2012]
1. Prelude – Moderato libero (Left exterior panel)
2. First Unfolding – Allegro appassionato (Left interior panel)
3. Second Unfolding – Libero (Right interior panel)
4. Tell’em What You See – Allegro assai (Three faces – centre panel)
5. Folding – Postlude – Adagio nostaligico (Right external panel)

I like the idea of exploring the dramatic, ritualistic side of music. In The Mirror With Three Faces, one can look at three different faces or roles of the same person or at three distinct personalities – each with its own face. Each character (i.e. instrument) may be isolated, in conflict, or in harmony with others and itself. This trio explores individuality and ensemble, harmony and conflict, one in three or three in one – that is the ambiguous nature of this work, structured in the form of a triptych. Lera Auerbach on Tryptych

The extraordinarily gifted Russian-American pianist and composer, Lera Auerbach, was only seventeen when she went on a US tour and defected instead of going home. She is a true Renaissance woman being a successful concert pianist, conductor and composer as well as painter, poet, librettist, sculptor and playwright. Her compositions include chamber and orchestral music, opera and ballet. She argues that all artforms are interconnected and should nourish and sustain each other. One cannot but wonder whether she ever sleeps.

Nothing is quite what it seems in Auerbach’s music as is apparent in this Trio, but she also aims to find beauty in unexpected places. She loves to tell a story, as dramatically as possible, thus the powerful opening chords that announce Tryptych. The main part of the movement creates a dreamlike atmosphere as the strings weave in and out of the tolling patterns in the piano creating fractured images in the mirror. The First Unfolding is a complete contrast, brief and sudden with grand gestures and an explosion of notes that leads attacca into the pizzicato opening of the Second Unfolding. This becomes a Schnittke-inflected waltz that fractures the mirror even more. As it slides to a halt the main movement bursts in manically. Tell’em what you see is the movement title and the breakdown of images now seems complete – wild phrases, dissonant piano gestures, string glissandi and, at the end, delicate string phrases.

This leads attacca into the final Adagio nostalgico that gradually disintegrates into a simple sentimental melody. As the theme repeats the musicians are instructed the imitate an old record and the lamenting glissandi bring this strange music to a close, the images in the mirror distorted beyond repair.
Francis Humphrys