The instrumental idiom of the piano trio is my favorite. And so, when approached by the formidable Land’s End Ensemble, I was eager to collaborate on a new work. My first (and only) trio before embarking on this project was written for the Gryphon Trio in 1999, a full fifteen years ago. So, this would be enlightening: ‘what will be the relationship between these two works’ I thought to myself. There are indeed similarities. My first trio began a compositional experiment that could best be described as polystylist: dissimilar elements coexisting in a creative work. In some fashion, most of my music from that point forward includes some element of polystylism in it. But, whereas my first trio explored this in an aggressive and confrontational way, my new work approaches this musical discourse through levels of nostalgia. The work is still rooted in the drama of opposing elements, but in my new work the material looks to the past in a series of reminiscences that are somehow linked together, perhaps akin to my own reminiscences as I age. This is most explicit in the last movement, in which I directly reference the tone (if not the material) of the final movement of Alfred Schnittke’s Piano Quintet. As well, I have included an epigraph by Schnittke, which resonates with my approach.
For almost thirty years I repeatedly had one and the same dream: I would arrive in Vienna at long last. I would feel happy, for I was returning to my serene childhood.
Piano Trio no.2 was commissioned by and dedicated to the Land’s End Ensemble, and supported by the generous assistance of The Canada Council Music Commissioning Program.