About this work:
The spiritual forbears of my String Trio can be traced throughout the history of Western music. It will be best understood therefore by listeners who enjoy the advantages of a broad historical and cultural perspective. It will also be best performed by players who have not limited themselves to music of the post-Second World War period. It is music that, without apology, is expressive of a wide variety of contrasting emotional states and seeks, frankly, to engage its listeners in a uniquely human endeavor; it is "serious" in the narrow way in which that term was once understood.
Although cast in four movements, this trio might almost be better understood as a play in four acts in which one scene gives way to another as it follows a single dramatic purpose and in which characters of widely varying personalities emerge to be developed and to be changed by their experiences.
The first movement is based principally on two lyrical themes together with the contrapuntal lines that accompany them and the motives that grow out of their expansion. The manner in which they are first presented becomes almost imperceptibly the manner in which they are subsequently developed. A short recaptitulation in which the two themes are restated in reverse order concludes the movement.
The three sections that form the second movement contrast because of their different treatment of what is essentially the same motivic material heard in the first two measures as two ascending melodic thirds. The first and third sections are very sustained and are reminiscent of the beginning and end of the first movement; the middle section consists of a series of phrases which rise and fall as the music becomes first agitated, then relaxed.
The third movement is a scherzo based on a flowing melody in rapid eighth-notes played in octaves by all three instruments in the first two measures. From this theme is derived a second theme with a long-short rhythm that forms the basis of a brief middle section. Although playful and carefree for the most part, this movement has moments that threaten to become a little earnest.
The last movement beghins with a lengthy slow introduction that is reminiscent again of the first two movements but which erupts in a series of contrasts that are sudden and, when compared with everything that has gone before, unprecedented. The form of this movement is based more on conflict than on resolution. Ideas contend with one another as characters might on stage with no one ever gaining the upper hand. If a single formal principle underlies this movement, it is most likely that of statement-departure-return, but this scarcely explains the intricacy of the relationships set forth in this movement or the significance of the order in which events unfold. This significance I have left to the listener to determine.
Trio for violin, viola and cello was completed in March, 1995 and recorded for Capstone Records (CPS-8644) by members of the Meridian String Quartet, Sebu Sirinian, Liuh-Wen Ting, and Wolfram Koessel.
Score and parts available from Mira Music Associates. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Review: "Allen Brings's chamber music [Capstone CD, "Music da camera by Allen Brings"] is an expression of late 20th Century romanticism—sincere, honest, and tough-minded. His music relies on traditional materials in traditional forms, but there is something about it—a knowingness perhaps—that makes the overall effect more than backward-looking. It may be the particular kind of consciousness of the past that made our own age, when composers can combine elements of several different eras. Does it work as art? Or nostalgia? I don't know yet, but honorable efforts like his (and his fine, understanding interpreters) make me believe the answer may yet be a positive one."
Stephen D. Hicken
American Record Guide
Version: violin, viola & cello
Year composed: 1995
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:String Trio
Instrumentation: 1 Violin, 1 Viola, 1 Cello