Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano (2008) by Eric Zivian
for clarinet, cello, and piano
World premiere; Earplay commission

This trio adheres fairly closely to an 18th or 19th century structure. The three movements are fast-slow-fast; in addition, the first movement is in sonata form, the second is in a modified ABA form, and the third could loosely be described as a rondo.

The first movement begins with a fanfare for solo clarinet, quickly interrupted by a soaring melody in the cello. These two elements, as well as a chorale-like series of chords in the piano, are intricately combined, sometimes with high seriousness, more often with a light, jazzy insouciance.

The second movement opens with a quiet melody in harmonics in the cello, soon joined by a more impassioned theme in the piano. A brief cadenza for the bass clarinet ensues; then all three elements are combined. The middle section is at first dark and foreboding, with interlocking descending scales, then calmer (though at the same time a bit quicker). When the first part returns, it is combined with the darker material from the second part.

The last movement is an extended romp. The descending scales from the previous movement are now made to dance. Above them are jaunty tunes for all three instruments in turn. After a short cadenza for cello, the music almost peters out before coming to a triumphant conclusion.

— E. Z.    

[from program for October 20, 2008 concert]