Trifecta Trio plays Koetsier, Niederberger, Danner, & Bowen

Trifecta Trio plays Koetsier, Niederberger, Danner, & Bowen


The Trifecta Trio was formed when the performers, while each on faculty at East Tennessee State University, found they shared a passion for chamber music and a desire to perform together. They enjoyed extensively researching the literature for the oboe and horn trio as well as performing many of the lesser-heard works. In 2011 the Trifecta Trio was awarded university grants from East Tennessee State University and Ball State University to research and record new, previously unrecorded literature for the trio. This recording, including two new commissions for the ensemble, is a result of their research.

Aryn Day Sweeney, Oboe Jeffery Whaley, Horn Choh-Long Hu, piano


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Dresdener Trio, Op. 130    Jan Koetsier
1. Allegro ma non troppo 7:25
2. Scherzo 4:07
3. Larghetto 5:25
4. Allegro vivace 4:57

Dash of Colo for Three (2011)   Maria A. Niederberger
5. Introduction 1:45
6. Cayenne Pepper 2:56
7. Blooming Desert 4:17

Partita   Greg Danner
8. Prelude 2:19
9. Ballad 2:29
10. Bagatelle 2:36
11. Fantasy 3:59
12. Finale-March 2:45

13. Ballade, Op. 133 15:01      York Bowen


Fanfare (Sept/Oct 2014)

What a breath of fresh air this CD is! From their very first notes, the Trifecta Trio—oboist Sweeney, hornist Whaley, and pianist Hu—envelop the ear and warm the heart with their lovely but not bland performances of this fine music. Leading off the CD is the delightful Dresdener Trio of Dutch composer Jan Koetsier (1911–2006), a piece that appears at first to be yet another late Romantic work in the style, let us say, of Josef Rheinberger, but the unusual harmonic changes (which, happily, never sound forced or put in just for effect) give it a feeling of charming quirkiness. I was particularly taken with the Trio’s penchant for playing with warm colors—not always a given in any group using an oboe—and a flowing legato style, which works particularly well in the flowing yet jaunty opening movement of this piece.

Dash of Color for Three was composed specifically for the Trifecta Trio by Maria Niederberger (b. 1949), professor of music theory and composition at East Tennessee State University. It, too, is a whimsical piece in a post-Romantic style, more rhythmically adventurous than the Koetsier piece but sharing with it a proclivity for lyrical warmth. Its three movements, titled “Introduction,” “Cayenne Pepper,” and “Blooming Desert,” are not without elements of humor, indicated here by odd notes, little swoops, and unusual pauses in the music.

Greg Danner (b. 1958), professor of music at Tennessee Technological University, has written perhaps the most conventional and least interesting work on this disc, but that is only relative to the high creative level of the other pieces. Taken on its own merits, his five-part partita is a pleasant enough work, of which individual movements would undoubtedly make nice encore pieces for a trio such as this. Danner also has the gift of being able to write for this unusual combination in a way that is ingratiating and charming, particularly the fourth movement (“Fantasy”), which I liked the best of the five.

York Bowen’s op. 133 Ballade, not to be confused with his op. 87 work of the same title for solo piano, is a typically imaginative piece by this late Romantic master. The Trifecta Trio plays it with wonderful spirit and élan, bringing out its myriad subtleties without sacrificing structure or momentum.