Last modified: Monday, June 23, 2008
Beaux Arts, the "gold standard" for trios, bids farewell
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. --Throughout its 53-year life, the Beaux Arts Trio has been heralded as "the most robust piano trio of all time" by the New York Observer, "having set the standard for performance of piano trio literature" by the Boston Globe, and as "the gold standard" by the Washington Post. The Trio now prepares to take its final bow in Bloomington -- on June 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Musical Arts Center -- in what will be its last-ever performance at Indiana University and part of an internationally celebrated farewell tour.
In his typically upbeat and engaging manner, world-renowned pianist Menahem Pressler, a distinguished professor at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, recently spoke of his many awe-inspiring years with the Beaux Arts Trio.
"It's a dream come true in so many ways," said Pressler, who joined the IU music faculty in 1955, the same year the Trio was formed. "How lucky I've been to be with the finest musicians possible, to be in the company of such musical greatness, to be able to touch and be touched by so many thousands of music lovers around the world."
Since the announcement that 2008 would see the Trio's final tour, the outpouring of praise from the world's most prominent classical music journalists has been overwhelming.
"The Beaux Arts Trio's two final London concerts were life-enhancing musical experiences, with the paragons of the genre performing the noblest works in the literature in an intimate setting," wrote Martin Kettle of the London (UK) Guardian.
From Amsterdam to London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and many places in between, critics and audiences alike have responded to the Trio with a rare emotional intensity.
"There was every reason to be misty-eyed -- over Pressler's age, over his beloved status in the music, over the finality of the event," wrote Richard Scheinin recently in the San Jose Mercury News. "But the real reason, the one that probably best explains the audience's response, was the sheer beauty of the performance by Pressler, violinist Daniel Hope and cellist Antonio Meneses."
Bloomington, Ind., has played a central role in the life of the ensemble, long considered to have established the gold standard of piano trio performance, and Bloomington audiences have grown to love and appreciate their annual performances.
"In the early years, [Daniel] Guilet and Bernie [Greenhouse] and I would gather here in Bloomington to rehearse, learn repertoire for the year, and then perform for summer audiences," said Pressler. "It was a wonderful time. Students would often spend many hours at my home, watching us as we put our concerts together. Sometimes, with the intensity of the rehearsals, they would even wonder if we could be ready for our concert the following day!"
"My teaching, too, was so central, as it still is," Pressler continued. "There are really two musical loves I've had all my life: the Trio and all my wonderful students. So often, colleagues of mine have been surprised by my devotion to teaching, my interest in staying in Indiana, when I've performed upwards of 150 concerts a year. Perhaps they don't understand that it was partly because of my teaching that I had so much to say in my performances."
Through the years and through what became an ensemble he personally guided, Pressler has introduced Bloomington to a number of the world's leading chamber musicians. Violinist Isidore Cohen replaced Guilet in 1969. Following Greenhouse's departure in 1987 was cellist Peter Wiley. In June 1992, Ida Kavafian joined the Trio. Violinist Young Uck Kim and cellist Antonio Meneses joined Pressler in 1998, and British violinist Daniel Hope was announced as the Trio's newest member in April 2002, after tours of Europe and the United States.
To many, the present configuration of the Trio, with Pressler, Hope and Meneses, has never been better. "In some ways, it's a painful time to close this chapter," said Pressler. "However, it's also a gift that we can go out at the 'top of our game.'"
At 84, Pressler continues to prepare energetically for his musical life ahead. His "Pressler and Friends" concert tour has already attracted more than 50 bookings over the next two years and will include collaborators such as the American String Quartet, IU faculty member Alex Kerr and cellist Paul Watkins.
To document the Trio's final whirlwind tour across the United States, American Public Media's Performance Today has joined up with violinist Daniel Hope in a series of audio blogs that include intriguing and sometimes entertaining insights in the life of the world's finest piano trio. To hear the series, go to: http://performancetoday.publicradio.org/features/2008/04/beaux_arts/index.shtml.
"The trio would be unimaginable without Menahem Pressler," said Hope in a recent interview with the New York Times. "He's the captain of the ship."
A SAMPLING OF MEDIA QUOTES ABOUT THE BEAUX ARTS TRIO
"The Beaux Arts Trio has become the gold standard for trios throughout the world." The Washington Post
"Beaux Arts is in a class by itself." New York Times
"During the past half century, one ensemble has been preeminent -- the Beaux Arts Trio, which, by any reckoning, has to be the most robust piano trio of all time." The New York Observer
"Beaux Arts approaches the mystical." The Washington Times
"Among the world's piano trios, there is none better." Time Magazine
Upcoming Beaux Arts Trip performances:
Aug. 18 and 19 -- Highland Park, Ill. at the Ravinia Festival
Aug. 20 and 21 -- Lenox, Mass. at the Tanglewood Music Center, Seiji Ozawa Hall
Aug. 25 -- Schwarzenberg, Austria
Aug. 26 -- Rheingau Musikfestival
Aug. 27 -- Rolandseck, Germany
Aug. 28 -- Kopenhagen, Denmark
Aug. 30 -- Edinburgh, Scotland
Aug. 31 -- Ulrichshusen, Germany
Sept. 2 -- Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Sept. 3 -- Gstaad, Switzerland
Sept. 4 -- Bern, Switzerland
Sept. 5 -- Ascona, Switzerland
Sept. 6 -- Luzern, Switzerland