30 days until the Musica Viva Festival – featuring the Eggner Trio!

The Musica Viva Festival kicks off in just 30 days, and the Eggner Trio land in Australia in just a few days. Hear their thoughts on their recent New Zealand tour and their involvement in the festival in this fantastic article:

Christoph Eggner

Band of musical brothers
Janet Wilson, The Canberra Times
Tuesday 29/03/2011

The Eggner Trio, its three members bound not only by brotherly accord but also by the engaging music making that has made them favourites with Australian audiences, will play at Llewellyn Hall in Canberra on April 7 during their fourth Australian tour for Musica Viva.

Christoph Eggner, the eldest brother and the pianist of the ensemble says, Of course the music is one very important part of our life but it’s also brotherhood and that we know each other so well. That’s important on a big tour like this when we’re very far from home for 52 days.”

By a wonderful stroke of luck each of the three Austrian brothers chose to learn a different instrument at an early age. Christoph says,”Georg was around six, Florian was about seven and I was about eight. Years later, when Florian was about 11 and I was 20 I saw that we had the perfect instruments for a piano trio. We started playing during the holidays for the family and although our parents loved classical music they were not professional musicians so there was never any pressure from them for us to play particular instruments. We were so lucky that we could choose freely.”

The Eggner Trio was formed 14 years ago. Christoph says, “Sometimes, as the eldest, I oversee the others but we try to have a democracy as much as possible. In a piano trio naturally the piano has a very important role – it’s the tempo, it’s the big sound. I have that responsibility but the most important thing is the melody and that’s in the string instruments – the violin or sometimes the cello. So although sometimes the piano has a dominant role at other times its role is to support the whole trio. I have to be very flexible between dominating and supporting. We each have our own views on the music we play so we put all our opinions in a pot and then we cook it until we come to a final
decision.”

In addition to piano trios by Beethoven and Dvorak, the Canberra audience will hear a new work by Ian Munro, Musica Viva’s 2011 featured composer. His Tales of Old Russia was written for himself and two other musicians. Christoph says, “Ian gave us complete freedom to find our own interpretation. I think it’s very interesting for a composer to hear how other ensembles play his work. We’ve played it in each of our New Zealand concerts and we’ve had to make some small changes. In the third section – The Death of the Soldier- there’s this idea of the clapping bones of a skeleton and the sound was made by clapping on the instruments. After a few times our violin maker said, You must take care of the violin and the cello. If you play this every evening it’s very dangerous for the instruments.’ Ian Munro was very friendly and he made a new version. Georg and Florian pick up some blocks and a guiro and do the rhythm that way while the piano part remains the same.”

Christoph thinks that the dimensions of Dvorak’s Piano Trio no 3 in F minor, Op65 are very symphonic. “It’s 40 minutes of very serious music and the sound, I think, increases the usual sound of a piano trio. You can hear and feel the Czech way of making
music and especially in the Scherzo this idea of the Czech dance. It’s a very honest way of making music.”

The Eggner Trio’s latest CD, Kaleidoskop, features music written by three of the brothers’ friends, Gerrit Wunder, Johannes Berauer and Sascha Peres. Each of them composed a piano trio for us,” Christoph says, “a big variety of music some of which we’ll use for our encores on this tour. All of these composers were born in the ’70s so you can read their birthdates but no date of death!”

Young contemporary composers and musicians are a special interest of the Eggner brothers and at the end of April they will join an array of Australian and international musicians and chamber music groups from the Australian Youth Orchestra in four days of teaching and performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music during the 2011 Musica Viva Festival. The trio was unable to play their recently scheduled concert in Christchurch because of the devastating earthquake but instead they raised thousands of dollars for the Red Cross earthquake relief fund at a performance at a private house in Wellington.

Christoph says, “What I like so much about playing Down Under is the open-mindedness of the people. I don’t think Australians are any more or less sophisticated than Europeans but they are more interested in contemporary music. After the concert people talk about these compositions.”

And what advice would Christoph give to a small boy who tells him, “I want to be a musician like you”? He replies, “Practise! Practise, practise, practise! And later on I would say, ‘Keep on going your way, even if it’s very hard and you’re thinking about it in a negative way. Keep on enjoying music!”

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About Musica Viva Australia

Welcome to Musica Viva’s International Concert Season blog. Here you can follow and read more about our wonderful touring artists.

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