RTC-36: 1969 Transition Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano

Commission: University of Victoria School of Fine Arts / Canada Council Grant
Length: 18 min.
Completion: 6 June 1969, Wolfville, NS
Premiere: 1969, Vancouver Trio – Sidney Humphries, violin, James Hunter, cello, Robin Wood, piano. Victoria, BC

  1. 1974-01-27, Brandon Trio – Francis Chaplin, violin, Malcom Tait, cello, Gordon Macpherson, piano, Eva Clare Hall, U of Manitoba [see program]
  2. 1984-01-26, Festival Music Canada, U of Manitoba
  3. 1987-11-26, Manitoba Trio – Jack Glatzer, violin, Klara Belkin, cello, Delores Keahey, piano Eva Clare Hall, U of Manitoba
  4. February 1989, Manitoba Trio, Canada House, London, England
  5. February 1989, Manitoba Trio, Festival de Musique Contemporaine, Paris
  6. 2003-12-06, Norman Nelson, violin, Janette Chrysler, cello, Gordon Macpherson, piano
    Chrysler Concert Hall, Sooke, BC

Publication: CMC

Robert Turner writes:

“My Trio (subtitled “Transition”) was commissioned by the University of Victoria, School of Fine Arts on a grant from the Canada Council and composed during May and June 1969, following a year of teaching at Acadia University in Wolfeville, NS. The work is in three movements, each prefaced by the same quite “motto” played in turn by the three instruments. The atonal first movement, built on a 12-tone row, consists of three main sections, mainly fast and rhythmic, with the third being fugal. The second movement, slow and lyrical, is a Passacaglia – a series of variations on a bass theme derived from the 12-tone row of the first movement. The last movement repeats the same three sections of the first movement, but in a different order. They are also rhythmically varied and more diatonic in nature. A coda has each of the three instruments juxtaposing their version fo the “motto” to effect a quiet conclusion.

The Trio’s subtitle “Transition” refers to the work’s moving through its three movements, from atonal to tonal writing mirroring the overall change in direction in style of composition. It also alludes to my change in occupation from CBC Senior Music Producer (1952-68) to University of Manitoba Professor of Composition (1969-85).”

[ed. This is the only time that Turner admits to personal, outside, programmatic influence on his composition]