The Claremont Trio Releases 'Queen Of Hearts'

Featuring music by Gabriela Lena Frank, Sean Shepherd, Judd Greenstein, Helen Grime, Nico Muhly, Kati Agócs.

By: Jan. 24, 2022
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The Claremont Trio Releases 'Queen Of Hearts'

The Claremont Trio (Emily Bruskin, violin; Julia Bruskin, cello; and Andrea Lam, piano) will release its next album, Queen of Hearts, on its Tria Records label on February 25, 2022 in celebration of its 20th anniversary. On the new album the Claremont presents music written especially for the group over the last fourteen years by six of today's leading composers - Gabriela Lena Frank, Sean Shepherd, Judd Greenstein, Helen Grime, Nico Muhly, and Kati Agócs.

Lauded as "one of America's finest young chamber groups" (Strad Magazine), the Claremont Trio is sought after for its thrillingly virtuosic and richly communicative performances. First Place winners of the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson International Trio Award and the only piano trio ever to win the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, the Claremonts are consistently lauded for their "aesthetic maturity, interpretive depth, and exuberance" (Palm Beach Daily News).

"For this album, we bring together works written for us since 2008 by composers of our own generation. It almost feels as if we have grown up with these incredible artists, musically speaking, over these nearly fifteen years," said Julia Bruskin. "It's especially poignant to be able to share this music more widely through this recording, of work made by and with friends, during this time of ongoing uncertainty. We are hopeful that the spirit of collaboration and togetherness that made these works possible comes through to listeners."

Gabriela Lena Frank's Four Folk Songs was written for the Claremont Trio in 2012 and draws inspiration from the composer's mother's homeland of Perú. She writes, "As an American-born Latina, so much of my understanding of this small yet culturally rich Andean nation has been necessarily fashioned from within my private imagination from the time I was a young child. Frequent trips to Perú in my adulthood, always done with my mother, leave me with a sense of belonging to something larger than myself as I connect private musings with the actual existing reality."

Sean Shepherd's Trio from 2011 is a three-movement piece, written for the first concerts that took place in Calderwood Hall at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, which was designed by Renzo Piano. Shepherd was inspired by the architecture of the space, and describes the middle movement, "Calderwood," as the emotional core of the work.

A Serious Man by Judd Greenstein, from 2013, was dedicated to the composer's uncle, Bill Carroll. Greenstein describes his uncle as, "one of the funniest people I've ever met," and as bringing, "a seriousness to life that didn't include taking himself too seriously." The work was premiered at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, not far from Detroit, where Greenstein's uncle lived.

Helen Grime's Three Whistler Miniatures, composed in 2011, is inspired by three chalk and pastel miniatures displayed in the Veronese Room of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The evocative movements are named "The Little Note in Yellow and Gold," "Lapis Lazuli," and "The Violet Note." Grime writes, "Throughout the piece the violin and cello form a sort of unit, which is set against the contrasting nature of the piano."

Nico Muhly describes his piece Common Ground, from 2008, as employing three different repetitive techniques. He writes, "The first third of the piece is a cycle of chords of expanding and contracting length, with the violin and cello trading agitated little lines. The second is a pastoral obsession over essentially one chord: light changing over a field. . . [Later,] the piano begins stating a ground bass - a repetitive line around which the harmonies constantly shift. This sort of thing pops up in Purcell, where I first encountered it as a choirboy."

Kati Agócs's Queen of Hearts, composed in 2017, was commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest for the Claremont Trio. Agócs describes the piece as being about the idea of resilience. She writes, "A life fully lived may see challenges that can seem insurmountable. The work's variation structure, by representing tenaciousness and ingenuity - continuously finding new ways to respond - ultimately reveals an inner strength and an emotional core that hold steadfast and unshaken no matter how they are tested. The title Queen of Hearts is a whimsical reference to the "mother of higher love" card in a deck of playing cards. This card symbolizes resilience, magnetism, nobility, empathy, decorum, a flair for the dramatic, and a distinctly feminine power."


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