By Andrea Johnson
The three are known for their rapport on stage and for good reason: pianist Han and cellist Finckel have been married and performing as a duo for nearly 30 years, and Finckel and violinist Setzer performed together as part of the Emerson String Quartet for nearly 35.
Pianist Catherine Kautsky, Professor of Music at Lawrence University, is excited to see these old pros perform on the Chapel stage.
“These are people who are at the very top of the chamber music world, not only in America but internationally as well. They’ll be fantastic,” Kautsky said.
The trio will perform three pieces, “Piano Trio in G major,” Op. 1 No. 2 by Ludwig von Beethoven, “Piano Trio in E minor,” Op. 67 by Dimitri Shostakovich, and “Piano Trio in C minor,” Op. 66 by Felix Mendelssohn. This is a program that cellist Janet Anthony, George and Marjorie Olsen Chandler Professor of Music at Lawrence, believes will provide a varied and exciting musical experience.
The Beethoven trio is “very bright, it’s very sunny and it’s very beautiful. The Shostakovich is a huge contrast. It’s heavy and incredibly intense. The opening cello solo, all in harmonics, is renowned for its beauty and infamous for its difficulty,” Anthony said.
After these two contrasting bastions of the piano trio repertoire, the Mendelssohn, another standard, will provide an invigorating finish to the program.
“It is engaging and extremely virtuosic. Fireworks in every part,” Kautsky said about the work.
In addition to being fabulous performers, David Finckel and Wu Han are also master educators. The duo are the founders and Artistic Directors of Music@Menlo, a chamber music festival and institute for emerging musicians in Silicon Valley that recently finished its summer season. David Finckel wrote on the duo’s blog that he greatly enjoyed watching the students “rise to new heights of poise, precision and artistry in performances.”
The trio will bring their skills in education to Lawrence with two master classes in the days before their performance that are free and open to the public. A piano master class with Wu Han will be held on Thursday, October 16, at 8 PM, and a trio master class with all three performers will be held on Friday, October 17, at 4:30 p.m. Both will be held in Lawrence University’s Harper Hall.
Janet Anthony recalls the enlightening master class Wu Han and David Finckel gave several years ago at Lawrence and looks forward to this one eagerly.
That master class was “just fabulous. [Both Han and Finckel] jumped in and worked with all of the performers. They both talked to the cellists and the pianists. They gave their perspective both on what it’s like to sit in front of the piano and behind the keyboard. So it was a stunning class,” Anthony said.
The piano trio as a musical form provides many opportunities both for learning and for expressive performances because of the combination of a keyboard instrument with two versatile string instruments.
I think it’s a winning combination,” Kautsky said. “You have a place for all the virtuosity of the piano but it’s also balanced by the expressiveness of string instruments.”
Tickets are available online, by phone or at the Lawrence University box office. For more information visit: https://www.lawrence.edu/conservatory/performance_series/artist_series/finckel_han_setzer