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|The LANIER TRIO - William PREUCIL violin - Dorothy LEWIS cello - Cary LEWIS piano|
The Columbus Dispatch, Columbus, OH, 03/08/05
TALENTED TRIO DEMONSTRATES SKILL AND SENSITIVITY
by MARY HOFFMANN
FOR THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
On a sunny afternoon, the Lanier Trio shone inside the dark auditorium of the Columbus Museum of Art.
Too bad that so few people took advantage of the concert Sunday; numerous chamber-music opportunities apparently diluted audiences at central Ohio events.
The trio, which originated 25 years ago in Atlanta and takes its name from 19th-century Georgia poet and flutist Sidney Lanier, made its Columbus debut as part of the Jefferson Academy of Music series. The event showcased the talents of the trio's members: violinist William Preucil, concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra; and husband and wife Dorothy and Cary Lewis, cellist and pianist.
In a recital of works by a mature Brahms, a youthful Dvorak and the prolific contemporary American composer Stephen Paulus, the trio performed with the skill understanding and dedication one expects from first-rank musicians.
At the 1887 premiere of his Piano Trio No. 3 in C Minor, Johannes Brahms was the pianist. A three-note motif, stated forcefully by the piano, opens and dominates the composition. The mood of the outer of the four movements is bold and aggressive. Lewis' piano was assertive but never overpowering.
Throughout the performance, the clarity of line and balance of instruments was well-main-tained: during the feathery nature of the Presto non assai and its passage of piano chords over plucked strings and in the lovely Andante grazioso exchange between piano and strings.
Paulus, born in New Jersey in 1949, wrote his Music of the Night 12 years ago. It was commissioned by Oglethorpe University for the trio in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of its namesakes birth. The movements' titles are evocative phrases from Lanier's 1881 poem Sunrise.
For the first-time listener, the work begins promisingly with The Gates of Sleep. It progresses, however, through Singers in Storms, Labyrinthe of Dreams and Rhapsody of Morning Stars with a sameness in character that detracts from its overall appeal.
A depth of emotion marked the stirring performance of Dvorak's 1875 Piano Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 21, opening floodgates of passion and rhythm. The second movement, Adagio molto e mesto, touched heart and soul.
This music gave Lewis' cello a richer role. It's no wonder that the Lanier Trio has been widely applauded for its Dvorak inter-pretations.
Preucil's violin soared delicately and exquisitely in the encore, a beautiful arrangement of Wagner's Albumblatt.
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The Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester 11/14/01
PAULUS' 'MUSIC OF THE NIGHT' SPIKY YET LYRICAL
by Staff Music Critic
Around the middle of the 20th century, many composers began fleeing the public marketplace of the concert hall in favor of the sanctuary of academia. Armed with Ph.D.s, celestas and a lot of crypto-Marxist blather about the inevitability of atonal music, they wrote works that often alienated the general public. Even today, nearly a quarter century after the emergence of neo-Romanticism, many composers still express feelings of guilt whenever they stoop to writing an accessible tune.
Stephen Paulus, whose Music of the Night was featured last night on the Lanier Trio's terrific program at Kilbourn Hall, has spent the last 30 years avoiding the isolation of the academy, preferring instead to pursue the more financially precarious yet artistically rewarding life of a working free-lance composer. That kind of work was common in the 19th century; indeed, Beethoven derived much of his income from commissions. Today, perhaps a dozen contemporary American composers earn their livings that way.
For Paulus, free-lance work has had two important consequences: First, he's written an incredible amount of music - more than 200 works to date - and every note of it was essential. No doubt, when you do earn your living one piece at a time, you have to do a lot of scribbling. Second, since Paulus is dependent on consumption of his music for his livlihood, he's ha to write works that people might actually want to hear.
This is not to suggest that Paulus writes accessible music for its own sake. Much of his chamber music (Music of the Night included) can be angular and spiky. But it is also endowed with a kind of lyrical sweetness that is immediately gratifying. In short, he write music that is accessible and uncompromising at the same time.
Paulus composed Music of the Night for the Lanier players - violinist William Preucil, cellist Dorothy Lewis and pianist Cary Lewis - in 1992, and it seems unlikely that he could have found three more convincing champions. All three musicians are outstanding virtuosos (Preucil is concertmaster of America's foremost ensemble, the Cleveland Orchestra), and they performed Paulus' trio with clarity, vigor, and knowing sensitivity.
The program included two staples of the repertoire: Mendelssohn's Trio in C minor and Dvorak's Trio in E minor ("Dumky"). The players successfully captured teh dark, ferocious spirit of the Mendelssohn in a performance that was remarkable for its power and lyricism.
Their performance of the Dvorak - stylish, polished and deeply felt - was equally successful.
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The Virginia Gazette, Williamsburg 11/11/98
LANIER TRIO PERFORMANCE: SHEER BEAUTY AND STYLE
John Shulson Soundings
In these days of constantly rising prices, the trend is to place fiscal resources in places offering the highest rate of return on investment. Most assuredly, when it comes to musical resources, one of the blue-chip best investments around that offers handsome returns is the Chamber Music Society of Williamsburg.
Consistently, this well-run organization brings to the community the best performers and performances money can buy. And once again, this fact was evidenced in the recent appearance of the Lanier Piano Trio.
Named after the poet-musician Sidney Lanier of Georgia, the trio has been performing together since 1986. (In total, the Lanier has been performing since 1979.) The 13-year relationship easily explains the exceptional sense of musicianship these three highly talented musicians exhibited.
Certainly the society's offerings through the years have had among them many superb ensembles that have displayed extraordinarily fine skills. However, there have been fewer ensembles that have brought to their performances magical qualities. Such was the case with the Lanier.
To say the trio acted and reacted musically as one understates the marked symbiotic nature of the performance. They displayed knowing musical nuances that only constant tenure can produce. I supposed it's like many relationships in which you know your partner so well that you can complete each other's thoughts and phrases. Such perfection highlighted this special evening of music with the Lanier.
For sheer beauty of tone and for brilliance of technique, violinist William Preucil ranks among the absolute best. But then, as the concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, you'd expect no less.
Cellist Dorothy Lewis, likewise, brought to the stage a delightful presence and exquisite capabilities, as did her husband, pianist Cary Lewis, whose contributions were sound, solid, steady and, of course, musical. It was a joy to watch the threesome interact, swaying and nodding and glancing at each other in silent communication, the end result of which was beautifully etched musical moments that deserve to linger in memory.
They selected a diverse fare for the concert, consisting of the Mozart Trio in B flat Major, K. 502; Stephen Paulus "Music of the Night"; and Dvorak Trio in B flat Major, Opus 21. Each in its own right was right spectacular.
The Lanier opened with the Mozart. Interestingly, three days before Mozart finished this piece, his son, Johann Thomas Leopold, died. Yet this Mozart-brilliant work shows no sign of melancholia, although the larghetto does lend itself to description as deeply introspective and thoughtful.
However, taken as a whole, the work is one of overt happiness, joy and spirit. The Lanier treated it appropriately with lightness of approach and delicacy of phrase.
The most intriguing and interesting work on the program was the Paulus. An extremely accessible work that premiered in 1993, it is modern in sound, but comfortable in effect. Although not meant to be programmatic, given movement titles and accompanying sounds, imagery is a natural byproduct.
The movements are "Gates of Sleep," "Singers in the Storms," "Labyrinthe of Dreams," and "Rhapsody of Morning Stars." Sitting and listening, one could easily see the elegant work set to dance. The Lanier treated each movement with sensitivity and style and, no doubt, made many new fans for Paulus.
The evening closed with a spirited reading of the Dvorak. Pure Dvorak, the work is filled with Czech-inspired melodies that are superbly crafted and sure to deliver listener delight. From the opening and energetic allegro, through the somber adagio with its haunting cello theme, and the charming allegretto, to the closing and musically thrilling finale, the Lanier was in total of both the music and the audience's attention.
As I sat there listening to this wonderful program and to the Dvorak in particular, it occurred to me that life doesn't get much better, especially when you've got the best music, performed by the best ensemble, with the best audience any chamber group (or arts organization, for that matter) could desire.
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February 19, 1994
Classical Review by Phil Muse
"Lanier Trio Wows 'Em"
The Lanier Trio! What a thrill it was to finally hear them live after only listening to their recordings. Good as those discs are - and their (italics)Four Piano Trios of Dvorak (end italics)(Gasparo 291/2) was chosen by (italics)Time(end italics)as one of the ten best of 1993 - it doesn't touch the reality. Those who were there at their Feb. 4 recital at the GSU Concert Hall know what I mean.
There they were: William Preucil, violin; Dorothy Lewis, cello; and husband Cary Lewis, piano. Playing music that fit their style like a glove Mozart's K.542, Dvorak's Opus 26, and (italics)Life Motifs(end ital) an impressive new work by Stephen Paulus. Playing with a rapport as if they'd been concertizing together all their lives, with a spontaneity as if they were actively engaging these works for the first time, and a bravura that only comes when you've left any worries about note-perfection far behind in the dust, their's was direct emotional communication like you rarely witness between performers and audience.
In the Mozart and Dvorak trios, these folks brought out all the elements in the music: warmth, sadness, and humor, too. I was certain I detected a sparkle in the eye pass from Bill Preucil to Dorothy Lewis in the lilting passage for both strings that ends the second movement in the Mozart. And in the Dvorak, a generally intense, emotionally far-ranging work, the trio part of the scherzo has a melody of such pure, childlike simplicity that only Dvorak could have pulled it off. In the finale of that work, with some powerful passages for the piano setting the tone, all three players generated music of demonic intensity.
The Paulus work, here given its Atlanta premiere, was described by Cary Lewis in his introductory remarks as "based on a theme we have all heard - some of us many times," but which is never fully stated and is heard only as a series of five-note fragments at the beginning of each movement. (It was, astonishingly enough in terms of the mighty oaks Paulus is able to grow from so tiny an acorn, "Happy Birthday to you!") True to its name, (italics)Life Motifs(end ita) seems to have a program, through perhaps not exactly what the composer had in mind. Movement 1 is Childhood: mysterious, probing, filled with expectation and adventure; 2 is Youth with all its romance, enchantment and struggle; 3, Middle Age, alternating smoldering passion with moments of serene contentment; 4, a not-so-very-blissful Old Age, and a "raging against the dying of the light." At least that's the way it struck me, especially given the strong, insightful playing of the Lanier Trio, which rose at times to a level of volcanic intensity but captured the serenely beautiful moments in the score, too.
After the concert, refreshments, and a chance for audience and performers to mingle and chat. This is a special time for the Lanier, artists who are always seeking an ever-closer rapport with their audience. The Lewises, in fact, are planning another Royal Viking Lines cruise in November, a tradition. Dorothy, resplendent in a lavender-violet silk brocade jumpsuit with cutout back, termed it "our toughest audience...The short romantic pieces we play on the cruise ship require the same level of artistry as our concert material." Added Cary: "We're on the strictest sort of rating system: if our ratings fall below a certain level, we're out of there!" From what I heard in the concert at GSU, there's no danger of the Lewises will ever have to work their way home on a tramp steamer!
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From Warsaw Today
June 3, 1987
Musical Trio from USA
By Jan Weber
The term "musical" can sometimes be misunderstood because whoever performs music should be musical, but sometimes this is open to question. Why did I feel I had to use the term after I hear the Lanier Trio? Because for a long time I have not heard in the Philharmonic Hall a pianist who plays "piano." This is one of the specialties of Cary Lewis and his ensemble. Usually pianists cannot adjust the volume of their instrument to the acoustics of the performance hall. No matter where they play it is always the same. Suddenly here we had the opportunity to listen to a beautiful "piano" sound in a Mozart trio.
But that is not the only reason this was a beautiful evening. During the whole concert we had the privilege to have contact with a group of musicians who were gracious to the audience and treated them as good friends - guests - not ordinary people who bought tickets. During this concert we started to understand the word "chamber" to mean a room. No one in the trio tried to convince the audience "See what good musicians we are!" Instead everyone was saying, "Listen to how beautiful the music is that we are playing." It was an intimate atmosphere without musical voices being raised, an evening without noise.
After two trios by Mozart (B flat major, K. 502 and G major, K. 564) we heard the world premiere of Andzrej Dutkiewicz's Sophie's Music for Four for piano trio and tape. This complicated but fascinating piece oscillates between the very delicate sounds of evening dreams and the very agitated strong sounds reflecting the reality of our world. This piece made a profound impression and the composer, who was in the hall, received besides flowers much applause.
After intermission the Lanier Trio made one more metamorphosis and overwhelmed the audience with excitement in a ravishing performance of the Dvorak E minor "Dumky" trio, opus 90. Here the strings were more prominent. Dorothy Lewis played with a beautiful rich cello sound. Violinist William Preucil, who is of Czech decent, was particularly impressive as he imaginatively directed the drama and climate of this fantastic music, which along with that of Schubert, reaches the highest rank of chamber music.
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Stereo Review July 1994
Dvorak's four piano trios come from both his youthful and mature creative periods. The First, in B flat Major, is contemporaneous with the lovely E Major String Serenade from 1875 and shares many of its endearing qualities. The Second, in G Minor, from the following year, sounds a tragic note in its opening movement, reflecting the composer's grief over the death of his eldest daughter, and there's a touch of Czech national flavor in the finale's polka rhythms.
The Trio No. 3, in F Minor, was composed in 1883, squarely in Dvorak's peak creative period. Like the D Minor Symphony (No. 7) of two years later, its powerful first movement shows a strong Brahmsian influence. The National element still comes through in the charming second movement and the dance-based fourth; the slow movement is deeply expressive, with violin and cello taking the lead. Trio NO. 4, the "Dumky" from 1891, shucks off Classical forms and displays in its six movements the variegated broody and gay aspects of the Slavonic lament, or dumka. If the F Minor is arguable the most cogent of Dvorak's trios, the "Dumky" is by far the most popular.
The Lanier Trio includes Cary and Dorothy Lewis as pianist and cellist and, since 1986, William Preucil of the Cleveland Quartet as violinist. There is ample warmth in their treatment of Dvorak's wealthy of melody and countermelody, and a fine rhythmic sense throughout, with excellent balance among the three instruments. I was particularly struck by Preucil's outstanding playing in the "Dumky" Trio and his subtle use of portamento in its third movement. The recording is agreeably intimate.
TIME Jan. 3, 1994
#9 Dvorak: Four Piano Trios
The Lanier Trio (Gasparo).
The Dvorak piano trios are four of the glories of the chamber-music literature; the sorrow and the pity is that they are not known to a wider audience. The Lanier Trio - William Preucil, violin; Dorothy Lewis, cello; and Cary Lewis, piano - lavish impeccable ensemble and golden tone on each piece.
inTune October 15th - November 15th, 1993
Dvorak seems to be rising to full appreciation of the international scene. New releases of his music are constant, often topping the amount of new Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, as his works continually rise in public affection. An especially important example comes from Gasparo, where the complete Piano Trios are lovingly and richly performed by the Lanier Trio.
The four Dvorak Piano Trios - his Op. 21 in B-flat major, Op. 26 in G minor, Op. 65 in F minor and the famous Dumky Trio, Op. 90 in E minor - offer music of exceptional strength, and variety. All arc on the serious side, large and symphonic in scope. (The great, although neglected F minor Trio, runs 38:40.) Even the First Trio, the only one in a major key, has its dark shadows, rather like Schubert. (Hear the moody, gloriously lyric Adagio, and be convinced.) Rather than his folksy side, the Trios present Dvorak at this most serious and profound. Her is Dvorak in the manner of the Cello Concerto or Seventh Symphony. Like those works, the Trios do entertain their lighter moments, but the predominate mood remains serious in all four works.
We have not had a new recording available in some time, and this one features uncommonly clean, modern sonics. Besides that, performances also feature modern views, sumptuous and lyrical, yet never slipping over the edge into sentimentality. Also, this is a function Trio, not merely three musicians thrown into a studio for recordings. The feeling of ensemble unanimity is paramount. The Lanier Trio (named for an American poet) really plays together, not just at the same time. Fine points of phrasing and ensemble are outstandingly executed. By any standard, playing, recording and repertory, this is an outstanding accomplishment in recorded chamber music. Highly recommended.
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The Strad Nov. 95
The Lanier Trio were musically far from their native Atlanta when their recording of the complete Dvorak trios wound up in Time magazine's picks for Best Music of 1993. This time they stay closer to home with the chamber music of Stephen Paulus, former composer-in-residence with the Atlanta Symphony.
Paulus is better known for his large-scale writing (his Violin Concerto for Lanier violinist William Preucil and the Atlanta Symphony won Third Prize in the 1988 Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards), often involving vocal or choral textures. His idiom is unfailing tonal, and even his instrumental music has the kind of arching melodies that suggest a vocal quality. His music manages to be eminently accessible on a first hearing without leaving the listener feeling cheated.
Preucil has remained a member of the trio since 1986 despite his tenure in the soon-to-disband Cleveland Quartet and his appointment as concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra. Little wonder; the musical collaboration here is high, with a palpable level of comfort among the players that can take years to find.
The only disappointment, and a slight one at that, is in the recording quality. Levels are properly balanced, but the tone quality of pianist Cary Lewis seems a bit muffled. Preucil and cellist Dorothy Lewis fare much better, walking a tight line between playing idiomatically for their instruments yet keeping a delicate shading of tone that suggests the work of the best lieder singers.
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