Three Aspects of Spring

First Movement – ‘Idyll’
Second Movement – ‘Bushwalk’
Third Movement – ‘Synergy’

This small piece was commissioned by the Verdehr Trio and received its world premiere at Casa Thomas Jefferson in Brasilia on September 20 2002, as part of the International Clarinets and Saxophones Conference.

The Verdehrs, the pioneers and finest exponents of the violin/clarinet/piano ensemble have since performed ‘Three Aspects of Spring’ many times in the United States, always to a warm response.

This recording is taken from the Verdehr Trio’s highly successful US premiere of ‘Three Aspects of Spring’ at The Phillips Collection in Washington DC on February 22 2003. Their performance in same venue in October 2006 was described as the highlight of a very fine concert – both reviews are below. They are currently preparing this music for CD release on the Crystal Records label.


More information on the Verdehr Trio.

Washington Post Review

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Verdehr Trio

There are only so many trio scores featuring clarinet in existence, so the Verdehr Trio — comprised of the husband-wife team of violinist Walter Verdehr and clarinetist Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr, as well as pianist Silvia Roederer — has commissioned several new works. Some fine music has resulted, along with a share of misfires.

The trio’s Sunday evening concert at the Phillips Collection had a bit of both, presenting new pieces from Australia and New Zealand that were mostly engaging but occasionally felt little more original than the concert’s title, “Down Under.”

The clarinet can bewitch a composer (look at Mozart and Brahms), and the danger is to wallow too much in the instrument’s ethereal bathos. “Four Miniatures” of Richard Mills came off well, as the trio struck up tumultuous sounds to match the more pervasive mysterious atmosphere.

Peter Sculthorpe’s “Baltimore Songlines,” which received its Washington premiere, sounded on first hearing somewhat derivative. The score seemed content to emit silky melodies, which, though attractive, never leavened into something more coherent and powerful. Chirping bird calls, sung from the violin, gave a sense of natural openness but improved little on similar effects in the picturesque music of Respighi and the glowing sound-blocks of Messiaen.

The highlight of the afternoon was New Zealand composer Christopher Marshall’s “Three Aspects of Spring.” Even in its quieter moments, the music was expressive, speaking in rich textures, confident gestures and quicksilver mood changes.

While a nicely shaped account of Sculthorpe’s “Grief Singing” opened the concert, a sometimes growling, sometimes melancholic rendition of Douglas Knehans’s “Rive” beautifully closed it out. Bouts of funky intonation detracted little from the Verdehr Trio’s generally sensitive and supple playing.

— Daniel Ginsberg
© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Washington Post Review

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

The Verdehr Trio At the Phillips Collection

Music for violin, clarinet and piano is not particularly abundant, but the group responsible for most of what we have, the Verdehr Trio, gave a sparkling demonstration of the medium’s variety and color potential Sunday at the Phillips Collection. All five of the works played were composed for the trio in the past few years; all were excellent.

One of the two U.S. premieres performed, “Trio” (2001), by Greek composer Dimitri Terzakis, showed a variety of influences ranging from Byzantine sacred music to Greek folk dances, with moody, introspective passages and spirited instrumental dialogues for contrast.

The other, “Three Aspects of Spring” (2002), by New Zealand composer Christopher Marshall, was happily melodious in its first and third movements and eerily evocative of vast open spaces in the middle movement, titled “Bushwalk” and featuring tiny motifs inspired by the calls of New Zealand birds.

Jennifer Higdon’s “Dash” (2001), which opened the program and was repeated as an encore, was what its title implies, “like the end of a race,” as the composer said in a brief introduction — speedy, headlong, exhilarating music.

Charles Ruggiero’s “Collage-1912” (2001) was a study in shifting and contrasting colors that elaborates on motifs drawn from a dozen composers who were active in 1912. It achieves a curious kind of unity by focusing on the zeitgeist of that era.

Chinese composer Shuhua Zhu’s “From Luhong Plateau” (2002), which concluded the program, was inspired by the folk music and dances of the Yi people, one of China’s ethnic minorities. It combined exotic atmosphere with a knowing use of Western procedures.

The Verdehr Trio played all this music as though it owned it — as, in fact, it does.

— Joseph McLellan
© 2003 The Washington Post Company