About the Trio
One of the most distinguished piano trios in North America, the Newstead Trio's performances are personified by warmth, energy, and depth of expression. In more than fifteen years together, they have performed for audiences throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, Hungary, Singapore, and China, where they gave their concerto debut performing Beethoven's Triple Concerto with the Shenzen Symphony Orchestra.
The trio made their New York debut at Carnegie Hall, and has been broadcast live on radio and television. Their innovative and uniquely accessible concert programming combines traditional piano trio literature with more contemporary works. These presentations are characterized by a dramatic variety that can be enjoyed by a wide variety of audiences worldwide. They have also commissioned numerous works by widely respected composers and have included a world premier performance on each of their three recordings.
The Newstead Trio is the ensemble in residence at the Pennsylvania Academy of Music and is included on the roster of Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour.
Michael Jamanis, Violin
Michael Jamanis received a Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School, a Master of Music from Yale University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Rutgers University. He has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career, including the Lincoln Center, Victor Herbert, and Metro-Media Awards. In addition, he has worked with such artists as Leonard Bernstein, Arnold Steinhardt and Joseph Fuchs. When Dr. Jamanis is not on tour with the Newstead Trio, he serves as the head of the string department at the Pennsylvania Academy of Music, as well as the artistic director of Vivace, a summer music festival now in its eighth year. Dr. Jamanis is also a visiting professor at China Northwest University for Nationalities and a senior adjunct assistant professor at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Sara Male, Cello
Canadian cellist Sara Male received an Associate of the Arts in Music degree from the Victoria Conservatory where she was presented the Principal Emeritus Prize. Her major teachers include Bernard Greenhouse, Zara Nelsova and Timothy Eddy. Ms. Male holds a Bachelor of Music with high honors from Rutgers University, and a Master of Music from the Mannes College of Music. Ms. Male is a former member of the Saskatoon Symphony and is well sought after as a chamber music recitalist, having performed in major venues in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia. Ms. Male joined the faculty of the Pennsylvania Academy of Music as cello instructor and director of the Chamber Music Program in 1994 and is an adjunct assistant professor at Franklin and Marshall College.
Xun Pan, Piano
Born in Tianjin, China, Xun received his early musical training from his grandmother and parents. He continued his studies at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and Syracuse University, and earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from Rutgers University. Xun was the winner of the Dr. Luis Sigall International Piano Competition in Chile in 1987 and the Frinna Awerbuch International Piano Competition in New York in 1992, and has performed solo recitals worldwide from Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall to China's Beijing Concert Hall. Currently, Xun serves as chairman of the piano department at the Pennsylvania Academy of Music and is a visiting professor at the China Conservatory of Music, China Northwest University for Nationalities, and at Wenzhou University.
The bicentenary of Mendelssohn’s birth is observed with affection as well as admiration, the happy regard reserved for those creative artists whose communicative power combines elegance with warmth of heart. Mendelssohn was not a revolutionary, and could not abide some who were (his reactions to Berlioz and his music provide innocent amusement now), but his music and what we know of his personality add up to an agreeably positive image, at once perdurably youthful and consistently mature, characterized by enthusiasm, freshness, imaginativeness and an interest in a broad range of interests which contributed to his sense of drama and gift for color. (His pen-and-ink sketches and water colors are worthy of exhibition). Mendelssohn composed his stunning Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and his remarkably mature String Octet as a teen-ager, when Beethoven was still alive, and he is remembered, among other distinctions, for excelling even Mozart’s accomplishment as a certifiable child prodigy.
Throughout his life, Mendelssohn’s commitment to the music of his artistic forebears was more than merely a matter of scholarly interest. He is remembered for restoring Bach’s St. Matthew Passion to circulation at age 20, and for similarly successful rescue efforts on behalf of Beethoven’s Fourth and Fifth Piano Concertos and, with his young protégé Joseph Joachim, the same composer’s Violin Concerto. He regarded such activity with the same seriousness and intensity as his own creative work, but it in no way affected the individuality of his personal style as a composer, which only became more distinctive as the years passed.
That style, always marked by great spontaneity and melodic richness and frequently exhibiting the “elfin” spirit that made him the ideal composer of the music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and is epitomized in its most mature stage by these two trios, both of which are products of his maturity, created out of his declared intention to revive and refresh the tradition of this genre as represented in the trios of Beethoven and Schubert.. The years in which they were composed frame the rich period during which he produced the stage music for MND (remarkably “picking up where he had left” off with the aforementioned overture some sixteen years earlier), the beloved Violin Concerto in E minor, and the last and greatest of his symphonies, the “Scottish.”
Mendelssohn had actually composed a Trio in C minor as early as 1820, at age eleven, but that work was scored for piano, violin and viola, and it was in any event one of the numerous compositions in various forms which he regarded as juvenilia and neither brought to publication nor performed in public. The two later recorded here identify him as the continuator between the definitive masterworks for piano, violin and cello by Beethoven and Schubert before him and those to come decades later from Brahms.
The Trio in D minor, the earlier and by far the more popular of the two, was composed in 1839, when Mendelssohn was 30 years old. (That was the year in which, as conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, he presided over the belated premiere of Schubert’s big Symphony in C major--not so big on that occasion, when it was performed with numerous cuts). The opening of this work is frequently cited as a sort of “pre-echo” of the elegiac, or “autumnal” trios of Brahms (who frequently spoke of his admiration for Mendelssohn, and left evidence of it in several of his own works in various forms), but throughout the work there are also suggestions of the legacy of Beethoven and Schubert. The slow movement, which Robert Schumann praised so unreservedly, is characterized by a noble and somewhat restrained level of melancholy, but has a fiery middle section which fades away resignedly when the opening material returns. It is followed by one of the great examples of the scherzo style that Mendelssohn made more or less his own, this one being a meeting place for some darker figures as well as the usual elfin ones. (Some eighteen years earlier, when Carl Zelter, Mendelssohn’s teacher, took the lad to meet Goethe and play for him, Zelter remarked to him, “What goblins and dragons have you been dreaming about, to drive you along so wildly?”) The finale’s marking of assai appassionato would appear to sum up the entire work. In the main, this final Allegro is a brilliant, dancelike piece, but two poignant interludes occur along its course as reminders of the elegiac and melancholy elements in the earlier movements.
It would be reasonable to assume that a work as successful as the D minor Trio would create an enthusiastically receptive audience for a subsequent work in the same genre from the same source, but in point of fact the persistent popularity of that work has tended to overshadow the one in C minor, which followed in 1845. More than a few musicians, however, have regarded the later work, which Mendelssohn dedicated to his colleague Louis Spohr, as the stronger and more substantial of the two. John Horton, in his useful study of Mendelssohn’s chamber music, remarked that the later trio seems “to be conceived entirely in instrumental terms, whereas the earlier Trio is replete with cantabile melodies and owes much to the romantic Lied.” It is also both more expansive and more overtly dramatic than its predecessor; the writing for the piano in particular is impressive for both its elegance and its expressiveness, and, particularly in its outer movements, Op. 66 more pointedly foreshadows Brahms.
Another British Mendelssohn scholar, Philip Radcliffe, pointed out in his concise biography that the “very flexible opening phrase” of the Op. 66 Trio would have echoes in the finale of Brahms’s final piano Quartet (Op. 60, also in C minor). The slow movement, in contrast to the tranquillo of the earlier trio, is marked Andante espressivo, and, rather than looking forward to Brahms, it might be regarded as a tribute to the songlike slow movements in the trios and string quartets of Beethoven. (Radcliffe compares its style to that of the corresponding movement of the “Archduke Trio.”) The scherzo this time is more firmly in Mendelssohn’s distinctive Fairlyland realm, and the concluding Allegro appassionato again looks ahead to Brahms. Indeed this finale, of conspicuously greater substance than its predecessor in the Op. 49 Trio, may suggest itself as a virtual template for the imposing finale of the later composer’s First Symphony (again in the same key of C minor): it is an exultant piece, with a chorale theme (which may or may not have been adapted from an existing hymn) that is brought back to end the work on a level of jubilation that is instinctively tailored to Mendelssohn’s unfailing balance of intensity and tastefulness.