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Aegean (Preview)

  • Text
  • Trio
  • Trio
  • Aegean
  • Psathas
by John Psathas | for Piano Trio

concerto, Zahara, which

concerto, Zahara, which he first performed with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Atherton, at the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, New Zealand on 22 September 2006. In 2008, Chamber Music New Zealand commissioned Psathas to write a string quartet, A Cool Wind, for the world renown Takács Quartet, who presented the first performance in the Auckland Town Hall, Auckland, New Zealand on 23 July 2008. Psathas’ recent career highlights include the creation of key ceremonial music for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and more recently Zeibekiko, an entire programme of music celebrating the heritage of Greek music from antiquity and the present day. Zeibekiko was commissioned by the Eduard van Beinum Foundation at the request of the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble and toured Holland in 2004. It was a highlight of both the 2004 Bath Festival (UK) and the 2006 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts. Psathas’ inclination to work in a collaborative capacity with artists from a wide range of musical genres and backgrounds has resulted in projects such as Elect the Dead Symphony with Serj Tankian, and Pounamu with New Zealand roots musician Warren Maxwell. In 2011, Psathas produced his first film score for the feature-film, Good for Nothing, and further film music followed with White Lies in 2013. Psathas’ involvement with Booktrack—a company focused on developing synchronised soundtracks for eBooks—saw the opportunity to write music for the Salman Rushdie novel, In the South. Psathas has received a number of awards and honours, including twice winning the SOUNZ Contemporary APRA Silver Scroll Award (2002 and 2004) for individual works and taking three Classical CD of the Year awards (2000, 2004 and 2007) in the NZ Music Awards. In 2003 he was made a New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate and in 2005 was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM). Latest information about the composer may be found at www.johnpsathas.com. PE181 – iv

Aegean (2012) Aegean is the second of two companion works Psathas wrote for piano trio, the other being Corybas (PE179). The works were commissioned by Ian Graham as a birthday gift for his wife Agi Lehar-Graham (in the original manuscript Psathas adds a little wordplay to the work’s title, spelling Aegean as Agi-Ian), and in grateful recognition of the New Zealand Chamber Soloists (NZCS) Piano Trio – Katherine Austin, Lara Hall and James Tennant. Short and elegant, Aegean is perfect for trios wishing to add a dose of romance to a concert programme. The work is inspired in part by the view from the composer’s parents’ house, which overlooks the Aegean Sea. Psathas’ substantial body of relentlessly high-energy works might lead one to assume that, in the case of Aegean, the sea is visualised at its most stormy and tumultuous, the work being pushed forward with tempo surges depicting accelerated ocean currents. Instead, we are presented with a scene in which a calm sea gently rises and falls – the piano’s odd-metered and softly articulated rhythmic figure evokes the irregular movements of the ocean’s surface, while passages that add repeated two-note semiquaver patterns in its upper staff mirror the glistening of sunlight on the water’s rippling contours. The peacefulness of Aegean is reinforced by the poise in the string writing that decorates the work’s unhurried journey. The violin and cello rhythmically intertwine, with softly expressive solo passages emerging throughout. The registral arc of the violin peaks with a series of sustained high notes, underpinned by harmonic lifts courtesy of the cello and gently rippling piano. The work becomes bathed in warmth, like the sun emerging from behind a cloud, sending light to play once again on the Aegean’s undulating surface. The strings finally merge into rhythmic unison, sharing the idyllic melodic statement that concludes the work. Aegean received its premiere performance by NZCS as part of the Casa Dei Mezzo Festival on 22 June 2012 in Makrigialos, Crete, Greece. The same performers recorded the work on an album of Psathas’ chamber works titled Psathas: Corybas released in 2014 on Atoll Records (ACD542). PE181 – v

Score Library

Piano Trio Trio Aegean Psathas