The Sundance Trio (Jed Moss, piano, and Brigham Young University artists Geralyn Giovannetti, oboe, and Christian Smith, bassoon) has released an album of original works written within the past 60 years, including the fairly recent “Kaleidoscope,” a piece by BYU professor David Sargent. The other works on the CD are by Madeleine Dring, Paul Angerer, Geoffrey Bush and Margaret Griebling-Haigh.
These are all delightfully unassuming, melodic and straightforward pieces. And the trio plays them wonderfully. The readings are perceptive and capture the subtleties and nuances of each score.
The ensemble play is also fabulous. It’s a remarkable collaborative effort by three like-minded musicians who are equals in musicality and technical astuteness. This is a very fine album, both in the performances and in its conception.
The combination of oboe, bassoon and piano is not a common one, but The Sundance Trio is making a go of it. Their debut disc on Centaur pulls together no less than five works for such ensemble, and overall it is a bright, melodious and attractive program. The key work here is the opener, the Trio (1972) by Madeleine Dring who was a stage actress in addition to being a composer and is one of the best-kept secrets of twentieth-century English music. Dring’s style is bright, cosmopolitan, slightly jazzy and gently neo-classical with a renaissance bent, and the piano part here was originally scored for harpsichord. Inspiration drawn from antique models is something of a subtext throughout this program; Paul Angerer’s Chanson Gaillarde (1963) is a tuneful, colorful and sensitive piece that works Baroque concepts into an orderly neo-classic idiom and belies its chronological context of having been written in the unfettered ‘sixties. Geoffrey Bush’s Trio (1953) is likewise based in the Baroque but is more characteristically French in orientation with a few Spanish flourishes as well; it is the most melodically driven music in this collection.
The Sundance Trio — oboist Geralyn Giovannetti, bassoonist Christian Smith and pianist Jed Moss — are faculty members at Brigham Young University, and composer David Sargent, who’s Kaleidoscope (2007) is heard here, was until his retirement in 2008 a composition professor at BYU. It stands out in the program by virtue of its slightly wonky, headily contrapuntal style, dressed up with sparing use of jazz chords; it’s okay, but doesn’t really fit with the other works. The closer, Trocadillos (2003) is by Cleveland-based composer Margaret Griebling-Haigh who, incidentally, also plays the oboe and has a good sense of its capabilities, but that does not lead her to load this piece up with a lot of writing for the oboe — instrumentally it is pretty well balanced. On the other hand, its development sections are a bit long in the tooth and the piece could stand some editing. Nevertheless, The Sundance Trio is building its repertoire from the ground up, as the chamber combination of oboe and bassoon — at least without the clarinet — hasn’t been common since the Baroque trio sonata was all the rage, and that’s been a long time. The recording, made at DeJong Concert Hall at BYU, is good; better than average for a university-made recording, though one could use a little more of the bassoon in the mix. Giovannetti’s tone on the oboe is attractive and never becomes cloying.
“This spring here in McCall, Idaho, we had the opportunity to enjoy a live recital by the Sundance Trio, and they thrilled the local audience with their musicality and technical finesse…..I have had the rare chance to hear the group on three occasions. They are truly a magnificent ensemble. Each artist is a talented and skillful musician, and since they have performed together so often, their ensemble playing is as good as it gets!
This is a marvelous CD-full of interesting, new, and mostly uplifting music for an oboe-bassoon-piano ensemble. For those of you who still think that the Poulenc (and perhaps the Bernard Heiden) Trios are the only good works for this combination, this CD is sure to be an eye-(or perhaps ear-) opener to you.
Bravo, Sundance Trio! Five Crows to you for this wonderful album!”
Ronald Klimko and Daniel Stolper, The DOUBLE REED quarterly journal of the International Double Reed Society, 2009
Here is a charming release aptly timed for spring and the longing for warm summer days. It is the second of Sundance Trio’s releases on Centaur and also their second to promote the works of contemporary composers. Actually, that’s what the trio does: explore and promote new compositions for oboe, bassoon, and piano. Listeners will appreciate the wide variety of sounds and timbres.
Peter Hope’s Sketches is a palatable but sturdy composition that sets the tone of the program with a flowery and lyrical prelude, an acrobatic scherzo, contemplative ‘Arioso’, and lively ‘Dance’.
Jenni Brandon’s Wildflower Trio is a bit cleverer and more serious than what I expected out of a piece that pays homage to Lady Bird Johnson’s fascination with wildflowers. The piece was actually performed for Mrs. Johnson in 2005 at the Wildflower Research Center in Austin. It is quite a mature, lyrical, and well-proportioned piece and quickly became one of my favorites. It paints a very animated and eloquent image of colorful little flowers that plant themselves in some of the most dramatic locations around the country. With great artistry the musicians imbue it with character and sensitivity.
Another favorite on this program, Another Life by Austrian-born Gernot Wolfgang, pulls some of its substance from the more contemplative and subtler side of jazz. As with so many of the better albums, an hour seems to go by too quickly. By the time British-born Michael Head’s vibrant Trio starts playing, the pace of the program changes gears and heads straight for Bill Douglas’s ever-popular Trio. Head’s work, though, rooted firmly in the contemporary spirit of trio music, is among the better examples of the 20th Century.
Douglas’s, which starts with his nearly trademarked Bebop, is just a musical smile. The ‘Lament’, inspired by the more lyrical elements of flamenco and klezmer, and the final ‘Rondo’, leave the listener enriched and rejuvenated. With such a well-rounded program, this recording will leave the listener asking for more. In fact, for me it is some of the most accessible oboe, bassoon, and piano music from the recent past-4 of the 5 pieces were written in the last 15 years.
The Sundance Trio has begun to solidify their image. They are exceptionally talented musicians who seem to have broken through the mere performance of music into the world of thoughtful artistry and craft. This is the type of album that you’ll want to play over and over.
LAYTON — From jazz to movie tunes to original music, the Sundance Trio has a varied program up its collective sleeve to ring in the new year.
The piano, oboe and bassoon ensemble is next up in the Davis Arts Chamber Music Series, presenting a Jan. 8 concert at Layton’s Alpine Church.
“This is sort of a potpourri,” said pianist Jed Moss of Salt Lake City.
The concert itself takes its name from a piece the group commissioned in 2014: “Up and Away.” Written by former Davis County resident Alyssa Morris, the three-movement work tells the story of a balloon, Moss said.
The selection depicts childhood and growing up through movements titled “Inhale/Exhale,” “Life on a String” and “Letting Go.”
WHAT: “Up and Away” with Sundance Trio
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 8
WHERE: Alpine Church, 254 W. 2675 North, Layton
ADMISSION: Free. 801-546-8575, davisarts.org.
One of the goals of the Sundance Trio is to commission new works like “Up and Away” to add to the repertoire for piano, oboe and bassoon, Moss said.
The hour-long January program will also feature “Gabriel’s Oboe,” the main theme song from the 1986 film “The Mission.” “It’s a very familiar, identifiable tune,” Moss, a freelance musician and principal pianist for the Ballet West Orchestra, said.
Another offering will be Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano by Poulenc, a “benchmark” piece written especially for these three instruments and a number that Moss said is held as the standard by which all other compositions for these instruments are compared.
All in all, the musicians will present eight selections at the Alpine Church covering a broad range of styles and appealing to a wide range of ages. Moss described the trio’s sound as “striking,” adding, “It really makes you sit up and listen because the timbres of the instruments can be so bright.”
The Sundance Trio was started about 10 years ago by oboist Geralyn Giovannetti, a music professor at Brigham Young University in Provo. Moss said he and Giovannetti knew each other through playing for Ballet West, and Giovannetti also knew the trio’s third member, bassoon player Christian Smith, because he also teaches at BYU.
“At the time there wasn’t that much music for piano, oboe and bassoon,” Moss said, although that has changed in recent years thanks to interest sparked by conventions of the International Double Reed Society.
As the trio members thought about what to call themselves, one name seemed to stand out. “We were looking for a name that would imply a locale and Sundance really fit the bill; it’s very close to the BYU campus,” Moss said.
Also, as the group has traveled throughout the United States and Europe, the musicians have discovered, “People always associate it with Utah. It’s sort of a name that lights you up,” Moss said. Once, the trio was in London at the same time as the Sundance Film Institute, Moss said, and Giovannetti played a joke on him, cutting out a newspaper headline that proclaimed, “Sundance takes London by storm.”
Oh … the other Sundance.
Moss, who hails from Idaho, began playing piano at the age of 6, when he was in first grade. He has played professionally since 1987, giving recitals and concerts across the nation.
The artist also works in the movie soundtrack industry, playing for the Merchant-Ivory films “Jefferson in Paris” and “Surviving Picasso,” and in some Hallmark Hall of Fame movies.
Being a part of the Sundance Trio is a great opportunity to be involved in the commissioning and birth of new musical works, Moss said. And playing with the group is so much fun that Moss said the three musicians are sometimes challenged in settling down to work. “We’re great friends,” he said, “so it’s a joy when we get together.”
Contact reporter Becky Cairns at 801-625-4276 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @bccairns or like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SEbeckycairns.
Musical group The Sundance Trio was hosted by the Brigham Young University School of Music in the BYU Museum of Art Auditorium Feb. 25. The trio includes two BYU faculty members Geralyn Giovannetti on oboe, Christian Smith on bassoon, with renowned pianist Jed Moss.
The group opened the concert with “Trio” by Ernst Mahle and “Liebestraum” by Franz Liszt. The recital also included works by Claude Debussy, Jenni Brandon, and Francis Poulenc. The trio’s interpretation of a composition by Jenni Brandon, a young composer in her thirties, was particularly exceptional. Brandon wrote “The Wildflower Trio” for President Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife. The second movement, “Wild Rose and Butterfly,” transported the listener to a mountain escape, where one could hear faintest melodic suggestions of birds, soft breezes and mountain streams. The trio’s sound consists of a great mix of scales and bouncing sharps and flats beautifully arranged and performed with a modern sound.
Moss stunned the audience with a beautiful piano solo by Bach titled “Fantasy in Fugue,” which brought Moss two curtain calls.
Geralyn Giovannetti, a native Canadian, has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil. She is currently Professor of Oboe at Brigham Young University and a member of Orpheus Winds, the resident faculty wind quintet.
Christian Smith is Associate Professor of Bassoon at the BYU School of Music. He also teaches instrumental conducting, directs the woodwind chamber music program, and performs with Orpheus Winds.
Jed Moss, a non-faculty pianist, has performed with great success in many countries. He is known for collaborations with musicians and orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic. Moss has soloed with orchestras in Idaho, Utah, Texas and Washington D.C.
The Sundance Trio has traveled and performed with great success and continues to thrill audiences with their talent. For more information about performances and albums contact Geralyn Giovannetti at Geralyn_Giovannetti@byu.edu.