BBC Proms success for Sierra Trio
Arlene Sierra's second piano trio has met with praise from the critics on its BBC 2015 Proms debut at Cadogan Hall. The stellar trio of Nicola Benedetti, Leonard Elschenbroich and Alexie Grynyuk performed Sierra's Butterflies Remember a Mountain along with the Brahms Piano Trio No. 1.
Otherwise it was Arlene Sierra’s intriguingly entitled Butterflies Remember a Mountain (2013) – taken from a scientific headline about migrating Monarch butterflies still diverting their route over Lake Superior because millennia ago their way was blocked by a mountain. Sierra said she liked the haiku-like brevity of the headline and proceeded to compose – at Elschenbroich’s request – a short three-movement work, where the movements follow the title exactly: Butterflies; Remember; A Mountain.
From the whispering and whirring of the opening, over Ravel-like piano splashes (Sierra acknowledged the influence of this composer) before the violin takes flight, to the more minimalist repetitions of the finale, via the more thoughtful and nostalgic second movement – low cello pitched against high violin – this is a most involving work. This Prom epitomised the scope of the Proms in upholding the musical traditions of the past alongside the presentation of the new.
The three movements reflect this; the skittering Butterflies brings images of the insects themselves, Remember ...is elegiac and clearly redolent of remembrance and A Mountain has all the majesty of an imposing vista. Here the Benedetti Elschenbroich Grynyuk Trio were not in the romantic, soundworld of Brahms but they told a story that was ephemeral, wistful and emotional by turns. They did this so well that they gave Butterflies Remember a Mountain a profundity that belied its 11 minute length.
-Seen and Heard International
To listen to the complete programme via BBC iPlayer (until October 12), click here
Cardiff University has covered the event here
Game of Attrition CD
Game of Attrition: Arlene Sierra, Vol. 2, is Sierra's latest portrait disc, released by Bridge Records to international critical acclaim.