Stormy extraordinary: The Peabody Trio brings a tempest in a teapot

The Asheville Chamber Music Series continues its 58th season on Friday, Jan. 21 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville with The Peabody Trio. The program includes four pieces of varying instrumentation from the Romantic, modern and contemporary periods.

Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina’s “Dancer on a Tightrope,” for violin and piano, will be as exhilarating as the acrobatics described in the title (if the composer’s statements on the work are any indication). Written in 1993, “Dancer on a Tightrope” explores the “desire to break away from the confines of everyday life, inevitably associated with risk and danger. The desire to take flight, for the exhilaration of movement, of dance, of ecstatic virtuosity,” Gubaidulina wrote. Those same notes call for “playing on the strings of the piano with a glass tumbler.”

Felix Mendelssohn’s Trio No. 1 in D minor is popular piece of Mendelssohn’s, and of the trio form in general. This 1839 composition may lack the glassware of “Dancer on a Tightrope,” but the strong central theme expressed in the tranquil first movement carries through the temporal rages of the remaining three in the manner of a tightrope walker on a live wire.

Russian-born, 20th century composer Alfred Schnittke’s “Stille Musik” [Peaceful Music] for violin and cello — a brief, single-movement piece composed in 1978 — opens with dry, long draws on the two instruments. The dissonance and lurking tempo is more mournful than peaceful, bringing to mind the loneliness of barges drifting in a foggy harbor. The tone is insidious, unnerving and completely arresting. Fans of composers Morton Feldman, Phillip Glass and Arvo Pärt will enjoy this anxious, unraveling piece.

The Trio No. 2 in C major by Johannes Brahms rings with all the pathos, exaltation and regal suspension of grief and exuberance for which we love the 19th-century German composer. Written in 1882 when Brahms was in his early 40s, the trio succeeds his piano quartets, the piano quintet, the string sextets and all three string quartets.

The Peabody Trio, the resident faculty ensemble of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, includes Violaine Melançon (violin), Natasha Brofsky (cello) and Seth Knopp (piano). Founded in 1987, the trio has performed in most major U.S. cities, including New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as parts of Europe, Asia and Israel.

The concerts take place at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place at Charlotte Street, at 8 pm. Tickets are available for $35 at the door on a first- come, first-served basis. Students under 25 are admitted free of charge (space permitting). To pre-order tickets please call 259-3626. On Thursday preceding each concert a “Pre-Concert Talk” will be hed at the Reuter Center at UNCA. The program will begin at 4:15 pm and is free and open to the public.

For more information please call 259-3626 or go to


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