WILKES-BARRE — Saddened by the 1881 death of his mentor, Nicolai Rubenstein, composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky poured his emotions into “a monumental work, about 50 minutes long,” that the chamber musicians of The New Trio will perform on Sunday evening at St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral.
“It’s not at all easy, light playing. It’s quite wrenching at times,” said Patrick Jee, the cellist of the group. “It’s sorrowful and mournful — and we as musicians have to pull that out of the music — but it should be uplifting at the end. At the coda, fireworks are going up everywhere.”
In a telephone interview from New York City, Jee said he and pianist Julio Elizalde and violinist Andrew Wan are looking forward to performing the Tchaikovsky piece together in Wilkes-Barre, and to balancing its darker tone with Ludwig von Beethoven’s much lighter Opus 11.
“It’s a bright, sun-shiny piece, kind of an amuse-bouche,” he said, comparing the Beethoven offering to a tasty, amusing little appetizer.
The New Trio’s appearance at St. Stephen’s is sponsored by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chamber Music Society, which is dedicated to spreading appreciation for chamber music.
Describing the members of The New Trio as “brilliant musicians,” society co-founder and chief of operations Amy Iwazumi wrote in an email that Elizalde has collaborated with Itzhak Perlman and other internationally famous artists and that Wan is concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and plays on a 1744 Michel’Angelo Bergonzi violin “generously on loan to him from the David Sela Collection.”
Jee’s impressive resume includes studying at Julliard and Yale before he began playing the cello with the New York Philharmonic.
“I’ve got to tell you, it’s not a bad way to make a living,” he said of his position. “I hate referring to it as ‘going to work’ or ‘going to my job.’ In truth, it’s not work; it shouldn’t be work when you love something so much and you get to play with your friends and colleagues.”
Iwazumi is a friend and fellow musician, a connection that is bringing The New Trio to Wilkes-Barre.
“It’s very flattering” that Iwazumi asks music lovers to spend a weekend evening with the chamber musicians, Jee said, adding “I’m very proud of her for what she’s doing” in trying to make chamber music more accessible.
As for another upside to a concert at a Wilkes-Barre venue, Jee said with a laugh “I take great pleasure in leaving the big, bad city and playing for real people.”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.