Masterworks by Schumann and Mozart are paired with modern tributes by György Kurtág and Christof Weiss, for an exquisite and stimulating musical conversation.
“A beauty of sound and striking expression that is rarely surpassed.” – Bremen Weser Kurier
Praised for ensemble playing that is “simply fabulous, perfectly balanced, [and] admirable in its rhythmic security and virtuosity” (Amberger Zeitung), the Iris Trio pairs works by Schumann and Mozart with modern tributes to these masterpieces by György Kurtág and Christof Weiss on Homage and Inspiration, their debut album, available on Germany’s Coviello Classics label on February 7, 2020. Comprised of three outstanding musicians – clarinetist Christine Carter, violist Molly Carr, and pianist Anna Petrova – who first came together in New York City during their years at the Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music, the Iris Trio has performed extensively across Germany, as well as in North America and elsewhere in Europe, consistently offering “a musical and lively performance, strong in technical nuance, and with an exquisite balance of sound” (Augsburger Allgemeine).
Robert Schumann was inspired to compose his spellbinding Märchenerzählungen (Fairy Tales), Op. 132, for clarinet, viola, and piano, by Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio for the same unusual instrumentation. One of the composer’s final works, the four character pieces range from dreamy to impetuous. In turn, Schumann’s “Fairy Tales” inspired Hungarian composer György Kurtág (b. 1926) when he coached a student chamber ensemble working on the piece. The resulting work which evokes Schumann’s contrasting moods is Kurtág’s intensely expressive Hommage a R. Sch. op. 15d, completed in 1990.
In a similar spirit, German composer Christof Weiss’ (b. 1986) Conversation Among Friends, commissioned by Mozartfest Würzburg and premiered by the Iris Trio, is a companion piece to Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio. “Reflecting the friendly atmosphere and conciliatory spirit of Mozart’s trio into a modern musical language was a great challenge,” comments Weiss, “The different voices change and blend into each other over and over again, until the protagonists progressively abandon their individuality in favour of the collective, as the three melodic lines merge into one and travel together to a euphoric ending.” The Trio gave the world premiere of Conversation Among Friends at the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Residence Palace in Würzburg, Germany in 2014.
The Iris Trio made its debut in 2013 for a sold-out audience at the German Consulate in New York City and was immediately invited to appear at the prestigious Mozartfest in Würzburg, Germany. Each of the three Trio members (Canadian clarinetist, Christine Carter, violist Molly Carr, and pianist Anna Petrova) are active recitalists and educators. Collectively they hold faculty positions at the Juilliard School, University of Louisville, and Memorial University, and have performed around the world on many of the major concert stages from Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall to the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Sydney Opera House.
Combining works from the standard trio repertoire alongside commissions by contemporary artists is a concept that Iris Trio continues to explore. Their recent commissions include two new works for the clarinet, viola, and piano by Canadian jazz artist Florian Hoefner (with poetry by Griffin Poetry Prize-winner Don McKay), and the Brooklyn-based American composer, Randall Woolf. “The concept of paying homage, in addition to bringing together these two pairs of works, is also the inspiration that brought us together to create the Iris Trio,” commented the three musicians, “It is a concept that continues to inspire us, asking us to remember the past, while enlivening and refreshing the present.”