Dream date / Baird trio off to Carnegie Hall

Buffalo News (New York)
April 2, 2004 Friday, FINAL EDITION


by MARY KUNZ; News Classical Music Critic

WHAT: Baird Trio’s Carnegie Hall warm-up
WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Slee Hall, UB North Campus, Amherst
INFO: 645-2921

/ Next week, when the Baird Trio plays Carnegie Hall, its concert
will be a dream come true.

Not that the musicians haven’t ever played Carnegie Hall. Cellist
Jonathan Golove has appeared at the historic hall’s Weill Recital
Hall (and he’ll be returning in May with flutist Cheryl Gobbetti
Hoffman). Pianist Stephen Manes has played there numerous times.

So Carnegie Hall is hardly a dream to the musicians. No, the dream
lies in the music itself.

The Baird Trio has always taken a bold approach to music, embracing
the old and the new. This concert is a typical adventure — but it
has a theme.

One piece the trio will be playing is “Bad Dreams,” an excerpt from
“Red Harvest,” Golove’s opera in progress based on Dashiel Hammett
stories. Haydn’s Trio in E flat minor, with its “Jacob’s Dream”
finale, continues the dream theme. Also on the program is “Dream of
Dreams,” by the young Armenian composer Vache Sharafyan.

Pogossian, who is from Armenia, greatly admires Sharafyan both as a
composer and a countryman. “He’s a close friend of mine, someone I
love and respect in an equal amount,” he says. “He is a very deep
musician who also is very attuned to our common Armenian heritage,
the Armenian tradition.”

Sharafyan, he adds, is well-versed in the roots of Armenia’s
classical music, folk music and church music, including Gregorian
chant structures. “To me,” Pogossian says, “his music is always an
emotional journey.”

The program opens with five Bagatelles by Tigran Mansurian, Armenia’s
best-known contemporary composer. “They’re really beautiful,” Manes
says. “They’re short, poetic and eloquent.”

The musicians’ fun-loving side emerges with Charles Ives’ piano trio,
completed around 1914. The Scherzo movement is especially famous; the
composer labeled it TSIAJ, for “This Scherzo Is a Joke.”

“Ives is one of the greatest representative, if not the greatest,
American composer,” Pogossian says. “It seems almost a duty to
include him, along with another leading American composer, Golove.”
His colleagues laugh.

Golove’s opera, “Red Harvest,” is an adventure in progress. The
segment “Bad Dreams,” which the trio will be premiering at Carnegie
Hall, is a pivotal scene in which the hero meets the heroine for the
first time. Their meeting takes place, Golove explains, to the
accompaniment of a radio playing such sultry jazz standards as “Body
and Soul” and “Night and Day.” “I won’t say everyone will get all the
references, and I wouldn’t want them to,” Golove says.

The scene requires immense finesse on the part of the performers, who
have to portray, simultaneously, the hero, the heroine and the radio.
Preparing the piece for this particular concert was also a challenge
for Golove, who had to write the vocal version, and then transcribe
it for trio. “The ink is somewhat dry,” he jokes.

How does it feel to be premiering his opera in Carnegie Hall?

“Rather a thrill,” he says.

The Baird Trio performs its pre-Carnegie Hall warmup concert Tuesday
at 8 p.m. at Slee Hall on UB’s Amherst Campus. Admission is $5. For
info, call 645-2921.

e-mail: [email protected]

GRAPHIC: Cellist Jonathan Golove, violinist Movses Pogossian and
pianist Stephen Manes make up the Baird Trio./