To commemorate the Mendelssohn bicentennial in 2009, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Emanuel Ax, and violinist Itzhak Perlman have collaborated together for the first time and recorded the Mendelssohn Piano Trios. The three players performed these works at Carnegie Hall in March 2009 and will once again dazzle audiences with their interpretation during their Live from Lincoln Center telecast on PBS on May 5, 2010. The Sony Classical release Mendelssohn: Piano Trios documents this incredible collaboration with a studio album that finds the players in resplendent form and is available February 2, 2010, but can be pre-ordered now at Amazon.
The release contains complete accounts of Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 49 and Piano Trio No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 66. This is the first chamber recording these three virtuosos have recorded together.
"Beyond his excellence as a composer, Mendelssohn was the ideal citizen musician,” says Yo-Yo Ma. “By the time of his death at 38, Mendelssohn had produced concerts, founded the Leipzig Conservatory, and conducted the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. He produced the first performance of Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion following the composer's death; he is also credited with reviving interest in the music of Franz Schubert—he was that central a figure in the cultural life of his community. Our purpose in making this recording was not only to play and to share some great music, but also to celebrate Mendelssohn as a model of excellence.”
Emanuel Ax concurs, “The idea of the Mendelssohn Trios seemed very appropriate to me, as we celebrate Mendelssohn's 200th birthday in 2009, and I have always been deeply moved by his music, and the Trios in particular. … I hope that the pleasure we had during the rehearsals and recording will come through for our listeners."
"It is always a special experience to make music with good friends,” says Itzhak Perlman. “When the idea of recording the Mendelssohn Trios came up it was a very easy decision to make.”
It is not surprising that a critic so insightful as Robert Schumann compared Mendelssohn to Mozart on the evidence of the Piano Trio No. 1. The comparison is apt, for the Trio traverses a range of colors and emotions suffused with light and poignancy. In the exquisite balance of his musical forms—the perfection of weight, color, and filigree, woven together in a delicate yet tensile web of sound—Mendelssohn not only made his name as one of the leading lights bridging Classicism and early Romanticism but also redefined the uniquely intimate form of the trio. He took the trio form beyond his Classical roots, seeing in it a genuinely equal partnership among the three instruments, rather than a solo for piano with string accompaniment.
Ma, Ax, and Perlman’s “The Mendelssohn Piano Trios,” Live From Lincoln Center program will air nationwide on PBS on May 5, 2010.