Piano Trios


Piano, Violin, and Cello

Tchaikovsky Trio in A Minor, Op 50, and Haydn Trio in G Major, Hob. XV, No. 25


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Music Titles

Tchaikovsky Trio in A Minor, Op 50
Smith, Beluska & Smith

1. Pezzo elegiaco, Moderato assai – Allegro giusto (19:06)
2. Tema: Andante con moto (0:49)
3. Var. 1 Cantabile (0:49)
4. Var. 2 Piú mosso (0:33)
5. Var. 3 Allegro moderato (1:00)

6. Var. 4 L’istesso tempo (1:13)
7. Var. 5 L’istesso tempo (0:49)
8. Var. 6 Tempo di valse (2:36)
9. Var. 7 Allegro moderato (1:25)
10. Var. 8 Fuga. Allegro moderato (2:35)
11. Var. 9 Andante flebile, ma non tanto (2:54)
12. Var. 10 Tempo di mazurka (1:52)
13. Var. 11 Moderato (2:01)

14. Variazione finale e coda, Allegro risoluto e con fuoco Coda: Andante con moto-Lugubre (7:26)

Haydn Trio in G Major, Hob. XV, No. 25
Smith, Beluska & Smith

15. Andante (6:02)
16. Poco Adagio (6:06)
17. Finale, Rondo all’Ongarese. Presto (3:20)

Program Notes - Tchaikovsky Trio in A Minor, Op. 50

The Tchaikovsky Trio in A Minor, Op. 50, resulted from the confluence of two things in Tchaikovsky’s life. In 1880 his patroness Nadezhda von Meck, was residing in her villa in Florence, where she had at her disposal a resident trio consisting of (from left to right in photo) Petr Danilchenko (Cello), Władysław Pachulski, (violin), and, as pianist, the young Claude Debussy (he was 18 at the time), whom she called ‘Bussy.’

In a letter of Oct. 18, 1880, she complained to Tchaikovsky: “Why have you never written a single trio? Every day I regret it, for every day trios are played for me and I always complain that you have not written one.” Tchaikovsky responded in a letter of Oct. 26 that, to his ear, the timbres of the three instruments would not blend: “How unnatural is the union of three such individual instruments as the pianoforte, the violin, and the violoncello! Each loses something of its value.” For Tchaikovsky, the violin and cello were overpowered by the piano, and it could not match their lyrical natures.

The second event was the sudden death of Nikolay Rubinstein, brother of Anton and Tchaikovsky’s long time friend and supporter. Tchaikovsky was in Nice when he heard that Rubinstein had died in Paris while being treated for tuberculosis. On March 25th 1881 he wrote to Modeste Tchaikovsky that he had gone to Paris to find that Rubinstein’s body had already been taken to the Russian church.

At some point between March and December Tchaikovsky decided to compose a work dedicated to the memory of Rubinstein. In December 1881, from Rome, he wrote to von Meck: “Do you know what I am writing just now? You will be very much astonished. Do you remember how you once advised me to compose a trio for pianoforte, violin, and violoncello, and my reply, in which I frankly told you that I disliked this combination? Suddenly, in spite of this antipathy I made up my mind to experiment in this form, which so far I have never attempted. The beginning of the trio is finished. Whether I shall carry it through, whether it will sound well, I do not know.”

In another letter from Rome on Jan. 25, 1882, Tchaikovsky wrote to von Meck: “The trio is finished. Now I can say with some conviction that the work is not bad.” Still, he fretted, “I may have arranged music of a symphonic character as a trio, instead of writing directly for my instruments.” He needn’t have worried!

The work is composed of two large movements. The opening Pezzo elegiaco is cast in a large-scale sonata form with aspects of the rondo. There is new thematic material in the development and a very compressed recapitulation brings back both exposition themes and the new theme of the development.

The second movement, long enough to be a separate piece in its own right, comprises a theme and twelve variations. It has been said, on very little evidence, that the variations are recollections, in some way, of aspects of Rubinstein’s life. This may be so, although variations using characteristics of the music box (Var. 5), the waltz (Var. 6), the fugue (Var. 8) and the mazurka (Var. 10) are not unique—one thinks immediately of Brahms Variations and Fugue on a Theme by G. F. Handel. The twelfth variation opens with a greatly modified version of the theme, and continues as a concluding fast movement should. It is only at the end that the whole of the variation movement is related to the first movement through a lengthy repetition (Andante con moto) of the opening theme of the work.

Program Notes - Haydn Trio in G Major, Hob. SV, No. 25

The medium of the keyboard trio occupied Haydn throughout his creative life. There are, according to the most reliable count, 45 of them, and, like the more numerous symphonies and string quartets, constitute a record of his stylistic development.

The earliest date from the very late 1750s, during Haydn’s employment with Count Morzin. In these works, the keyboard instrument was probably the harpsichord, a flute could substitute for the violin, and the cello reinforced the bass part of the keyboard. The last trios come from Haydn’s London of the 1790s. Here the keyboard instrument was definitely the fortepiano, the use of the violin is unequivocal, and cello has acquired a modest degree of independence.

The G Major Trio is the 39th of the 45 trios. It was published in October 1795, after Haydn’s first trip to London, and is the second of three trios dedicated to the widow of the composer Johann Samuel Schroeter, London keyboardist Rebecca Schroeter, with whom Haydn carried out an amorous exchange of letters.

The format differs quite a bit from the 3-movement sequence familiar from sonatas and concertos. Instead of the expected sonata-allegro beginning, the trio opens with a set of subtly constructed variations. Some of them are figural variations clearly related to the theme, while others are slightly different from the theme in harmonic pattern, phrase structure, and length. In the second movement, an opening binary form in major is followed by a ternary form in minor, and concludes with a repeat of the opening material, but without repeats. The qualifier ‘Ongarese’ in the Rondo refers to musical elements that signaled Haydn’s Hungarian style: syncopations, drones, and percussive effects. This movement was especially popular in Haydn’s day, and exists in arrangements for 2 violins, and also for solo keyboard.

Program notes by Dr. Vincent Corrigan, Professor of Musicology and Harpsichord at the College of Musical Arts, Bowling Green State University.


Diana Barker Smith, Piano

Diana Barker Smith received her degrees in piano from the University of Houston and the University of Texas where she studied with Albert Hirsh, Dalies Frantz and Leonard Shure. In addition, she studied at the Aspen Music School with Rosina Lhevinne and participated in master classes with Gina Bachauer and Darius Milhaud.

She is the winner of the Houston Symphony Young Artist Competition, the Phi Beta National Young Artist Award and several other competitions. Additionally, she toured Europe as a result of winning the first KRBE/FM radio station Young Artist Competition held in Texas. Ensemble performances have included the Kennedy Center, the Phillips Collection, the National Gallery of Art, Sala Chopin and Sala Carlos Chavez (Mexico City).

At age fourteen, she was selected to be a concerto soloist with the Houston Symphony conducted by Leopold Stokowski. Additionally, she has also collaborated with such artists as Jean-Pierre Rampal and André Navarra and with members of the Haydn String Quartet. A member of The Guarneri Duo (Piano/Cello), with her husband, cellist Alan Smith, she has presented duo recitals and/or chamber music concerts and master classes throughout the United States, Mexico, Taiwan, China (Shanghai and Chengdu), the Netherlands, Belgium, Romania, Greece and represented the United States at the 1996 International Cello/Piano Duo Musical Cycle as part of the Bellas Artes Concert Series in Mexico City.

As a chamber musician, she has appeared at many conferences and workshops including the Lancaster (OH) and Chapel Hill (NC) Chamber Music Festivals, National String Workshop (University of WI/Madison), the Chautauqua Institute (NY), and the Ionian Music Academy and Festival in Corfu, Greece. In 2001, she represented the State of Ohio as a member of The Guarneri Duo at The Millennium Stage State Days Concert Series both at Kennedy Center and on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. In 2005, she performed the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Sibiu Philharmonic (Romania) in Europe, as well the Lima Symphony in the United States with the other members represented on this CD. The same group has released a CD recording of piano trios by Haydn, Brahms, and a selection of “light classics.” She was an adjunct member of the piano faculty at Bowling Green State University (OH), and was formerly on the faculties of Texas State University, Colorado College and Duke University, before suddenly passing away in 2007. As the Tchaikovsky Piano Trio was the last recorded performance of Diana’s piano artistry, Alan, Vasile Beluska and his wife, Donna, decided to complete this CD as a tribute to her spirit, musicianship and professionalism.

Vasile Beluska, Violin

Romanian-born violinist Vasile Beluska graduated with honors from the Liceul de Muzica and the Conservatorul de Muzica G. Dima in Cluj, Romania. After immigrating to the United States in 1977, he earned a Master’s degree from Southern Methodist University and later became a member of the Class of Jascha Heifetz in Los Angeles.

He has performed to high acclaim throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and in China as soloist, in recital and with several chamber ensembles including The International Trio, American Arts Trio, the Mozart Fortepiano Duo and The Guarneri Duo. He has recorded for public television and radio in Iowa, California, Wiscon- sin, Ohio and New York. Chamber music performances include appearances at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Kennedy Center, the United States Capitol, Carnegie Recital Hall, the Chautauqua Institution and the California Music Center. Concert tours have earned him excellent reviews in the United States, Mexico and Europe.

Vasile Beluska successfully mixes his active performance schedule with an outstanding academic career. He currently serves as Professor of Violin in the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He has also held teaching positions in Romania and at the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Wisconsin and at summer festivals throughout the U.S., including 15 consecutive years at the Chautauqua Institution Summer Music School in New York. He has been a regular visiting professor at his alma mater, the Conservatorul de Muzica in Cluj, Romania and at conservatories throughout Romania, universities in Hungary, Canada, Greece, the United States, at the Sichuan Conservatory in Chengdu, China and most recently in Indonesia.

The recipient of distinguished teaching awards, his students have been prize winners in numerous competitions including the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition; Julius Stulberg Auditions; Corpus Christi International; Bluffton Bach Competition; and the Minnesota, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Ft. Wayne, Cleveland, Columbus, Lima and Toledo Symphony Young Artist Competitions. Many students have also been awarded scholarships for further study to institutions around the United States including the Curtis Institute of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, New England Conservatory, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, North Carolina School of the Arts, Interlochen and to most major summer music festivals in the United States. His students have also won positions with major U.S. orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, as well as concertmaster and other principal positions with the Birmingham Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, New World Symphony, Dayton Symphony, Toledo Symphony and orchestras throughout Europe and in Peru and China. Professor Beluska is a frequent lecturer on his new approach to pedagogy, “Talent Development”. He has presented lectures throughout the United States, Canada and Europe and has been a frequent presenter at conventions for music and humanities. Recordings include CDs of piano trio music released on KVR Classics.

In May of 2008, Vasile Beluska was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor. The award is given annually to American citizens who “exemplify a life dedicated to community service. People who preserve and celebrate the history, traditions and values of his/her ancestry and who dedicate themselves to creating a better world for us all.”* The award was presented in a ceremony on Ellis Island in New York.

Alan Smith, Cello

Alan Smith, a graduate of the University of Texas, where he received degrees in cello performance including a doctorate, studied with George Neikrug, Adolphe Frezin and Horace Britt. Additionally he has participated in master classes with such renowned cellists as Leonard Rose and André Navarra.

As the first prize winner of several national competitions, he has been soloist with such orchestras in North America as the Houston, Shreveport, Abilene, Midland-Odessa, Lima (OH), Filharmonica de Jalisco (Guadalajara, Mexico), and in Asia/Europe with the MoPok Philharmonic (S. Korea), Gwangju Philharmonic (S. Korea), Brahms Chamber Orchestra (S. Korea) and Sibiu Philharmonic (Romania). Other important orchestral solo performances have been in Washington (DC), Philadelphia, Denver, Kansas City. He has performed solo recitals throughout the United States and Mexico including the Phillips Collection (Washington, DC), the National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC) and the Instituto Culturales Cabanas (Mexico City). Several ensemble performances have included those at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, United States Capitol Hill and at the Canadian National Exhibition (Toronto).

As a member of The Guarneri Duo (Cello/Piano), with his beloved late spouse, pianist Diana Barker Smith, he has toured Taiwan, China (Shanghai and Chengdu), the Netherlands, Belgium, Romania, Germany, Greece and represented the United States at the 1996 International Cello/Piano Duo Musical Cycle in Mexico City. As a chamber musician, the husband/wife duo also presented concerts at the Lancaster (OH) and Chapel Hill (NC) Chamber Music Festivals, National String Workshop (University of WI/Madison), the Chautauqua Institute (NY), and the Ionian Music Academy and Festival in Corfu, Greece. He has toured South Korea many times (Seoul, Gwangju, Daegu, Cheongju, MokPo, Pusan) presenting master classes,

recitals, judging string competitions and as a concerto soloist. For many years, he was a member of the group represented here and presented concerts throughout the United States and Europe. The three musicians have released a CD of piano trios by Haydn and Brahms, including a selection of “light classics.” In addition, he has recorded for Mutual, Columbia, Access and ASUC Records and been featured on many radio and television broadcasts both in the United States and in Asia.

Over a span of many years, he has been invited to participate in concerts and present master classes in many countries throughout Europe and Asia. Listed among the many important venues in which he has participated are invitations to be an Artistic Advisor to the Sichuan Conservatory of Music in Chengdu, China and a judge for the 2011 Leonard Rose International Cello Competition held in Washington, DC. Formerly on the faculty of the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill, he is currently Professor of Cello at Bowling Green State University (OH) and has held guest professorships at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and the University of Arizona. Spanning a long teaching career, his international students, some of whom have been the winners of major string competitions, are from such countries as Brazil, China, Croatia, Mexico, New Zealand, Romania, and S. Korea. Many now either hold positions in major orchestras or have joined faculties of universities in the United States or have returned to their native country. In addition to his activity as a cellist, he has been active in recent years as a conductor and for some ten years conducted the Bowling Green City Symphony Orchestra (OH). He conducts various orchestras on a periodic basis.