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Han-Setzer-Finckel Trio

April 28, 2019

David Finckel, Wu Han & Philip Setzer

In recent seasons, the dynamic husband-and-wife duo of David Finckel (cellist) and Wu Han (pianist) have teamed up with violinist Philip Setzer—David Finckel’s colleague in the legendary Emerson String Quartet for more than three decades—in performances of the piano trio literature. The Han-Setzer-Finckel Trio is a formidable triumvirate of three masterful musicians– what they can so individually, though, is surpassed by what they do together. As an ensemble, they present a systematic yet passionate approach that sets the bar for how chamber music should be played.

Violinist Philip Setzer, a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, is a versatile musician with innovative vision and dedication to keep the art form of the string quartet alive and relevant. Mr. Setzer won second prize at the Marjorie Merriweather Post Competition in Washington, DC, and in 1976 received a Bronze Medal at the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Brussels.

David Finckel and Wu Han are among the most esteemed and influential classical musicians in the world today. Recipients of Musical America’s Musicians of the Year award, the energy, imagination, and integrity they bring to their concert performances and artistic projects go unmatched. San Antonio audiences can still remember the concert they played on our series in March, 2013. Finckel and Han are also co-Artistic-Directors of the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center, Music @Menlo in the San Francisco Bay area, and a Winter Festival in Korea.

Here is an excerpt of an interview of Wu Han conducted by TheaterJones last November:

 

TheaterJones: This is probably a question that you get a lot, but what’s it like to be able to play at such a high level with your husband?

Wu Han: Yes, I do get that question a lot! [Laughs] We started our relationship playing together before being romantically involved and somehow that intensity and chemistry started from the first time we played together. So even before we were involved, people would come up to us and ask, “Are you guys married?” And at the beginning, we just laughed and thought, “What are they talking about?” We are very fortunate, though. We have to make sure we keep things incredibly professional—not taking personal issues into rehearsal or our professional activities. That we make separate. It’s an unusual and treasured relationship, musically especially, so we take it really seriously. We still rehearse a lot and love working together. We just don’t think about who forgot to do dishes last night or didn’t put their clothes away at any of our rehearsals or performances, which I think is what it should be.

A lot of times when chamber groups perform, the members haven’t necessarily played with each other very much, nor do they know each other very well. What’s it like to play in a trio with your husband and then a violinist he’s worked with for decades? How does that inform your rehearsals and performances, that you know each other so well?

It’s fascinating—people assume that if you know each other well, you’ll play well, but that’s never the case—I know many good friends or couples who hardly make music together—they just can’t play together at all. So I think—with David and Phil [Setzer] there’s always been this basic chemistry, even when they first met 35 years ago.

When they first met, they played in a piano trio with Phil’s ex wife on piano, and then they were instrumental in the founding of the Emerson Quartet. But the advantage of playing together for a long time is that you do know each other’s strong points and weak points, so you do very consciously prepare things and make decisions around that. Still, rehearsals are equally intense with people you’ve known 35 years or you’ve known five minutes. There’s no difference in my experience. We’re just very, very lucky that we enjoy each other’s company and enjoy each other’s playing. That’s another unusual aspect of this trio. So far, knock on wood, David and I have been married 29 years, and playing-wise have never really had a major disagreement. Knock on wood, knock on wood! [Laughs]

What’s really great about the repertoire for piano trio? What’s your favorite repertoire for trio, and why?

I love Schubert—there’s just no other composer I love more. So it all started with Schubert! My next favorite composer is Beethoven. These two composers, thank God, both devoted energy to the trio genre. Beethoven wrote seven throughout his life, Schubert wrote 2 major trios before he died. Piano trio is very different from other chamber music genres—each individual has to be a very, very strong player. There cannot be a weak link, either technically or with chamber music skills or listening skills. You have to play piano trios as well as you play your solo repertoire. At the same time, you have to have all the chamber music chops, meaning you have to be able to respond spontaneously, you have to be able to control your instrument, be able to really make sure the balance is correct within the whole, complete group, not just your individual part. It’s a very demanding genre, and we certainly love it. I just think piano trio is the best! This will be our first time playing for the Dallas audience as a trio. Besides the Brahms and Mendelssohn C Minor, there’s a lot more repertoire to go! We just played a program of Shostakovich and Beethoven—it was heaven!

On Sunday, April 28, the stars are aligned when these three legendary musicians come together for a first-time performance in San Antonio. Be there to experience the alchemy of the Han-Setzer-Finckel Trio and witness the magic of three consummate artists expressing diverse musical ideas in one voice.

“It used to be the Beaux Arts Trio that other piano trios had to look up to and attempt to emulate. Now it’s the Han-Setzer-Finckel triumvirate that is the standard bearer.”

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Members:

David Finckel (cello) Wu Han (piano) Philip Setzer (violin)

Program

BEETHOVEN
Piano Trio in in E-flat Major, Op. 1, No. 1

SHOSTAKOVICH
Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67

-Intermission-

MENDELSSOHN
Trio No. 2 in C minor, Op. 66

Venue

Temple Beth-El
Address: 211 Belknap Place
Time: 3:15 PM

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