Trio has earned international reputation

Group makes its first appearance in Juneau with performance at Northern Light United Church

Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2003

More than 40 years ago, when violinist Régis Pasquier was 13, he went on his first tour with cellist Roland Pidoux and pianist Jean-Claude Pennetier, classmates at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris.

All three musicians have had successful solo careers since then, but they've managed to find time to play together.

As Paris Piano Trio - or "Les Musiciens" as they're known in Europe - Pasquier, Pidoux and Pennetier have spent most of the last five years touring through Europe and North and South America. They've recorded Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, trios of Schubert and Brahms, and chamber music of Chausson. All three also teach at the National Conservatory in Paris.

The group makes its first appearance in Juneau with an 8 p.m. show on Saturday, Oct. 18, at Northern Light United Church. Tickets are $22 for general admission, $18 for students and seniors, and $75 for families. They are available at Hearthside Books and Rainy Day Books. A reception in the church's Fellowship Hall will follow the concert.

"When we were little boys, Mr. Pennetier and I started to play together and we never separated. We played many times for about 35 years," Pasquier said by phone from a tour stop in Oklahoma City. "And I know Mr. Pidoux very well. We've played together for 25 years.

"We had the opportunity to play as a trio, and we decided on this formation, because we have been very close during so many years," he said. "We think that's very important to play chamber music really well."

Les Musiciens are three of the best soloists in France.

Pasquier is professor of violin and chamber music at the Paris Conservatory and performs annually with major orchestras and in recitals around the globe. He was named an Officier des Artes et Lettres by the French government in 1991. His discography includes the complete Mozart violin concertos.

Pidoux, the professor of cello at the Paris Conservatory, has been a member of the mixed ensembles Quatour Via Nova and Trio Pasquier, and performed with Isaac Stern, Pierre Fournier, Mstislav Rostropovitch and Jean-Pierre Rampal. He played in l'Orchestre de l'Opéra de Paris and held a soloist chair in l'Orchestre National de France.

Pennetier has won major international awards, including the Prix Gabriel Fauré and the Concours Genve and Concours International de Montréal. He took a break from performing at age 30 to conduct, compose and work in musical theater, then resumed his concert career. He's played with l'Orchestre de Paris and l'Orchestre National de Bordeaux Aquitaine.

"It's a pleasure to play in this formation, to explore the repertoire of the trio," Pasquier said. "We play not just French music. But it's an opportunity for us as French players to give a European interpretation."

Saturday's concert will begin with Franz Joseph Haydn's (1732-1809) Trio in A Major.

"It's a nice trio with some wonderful piano parts and a superb string part," Pasquier said. "The music is very fine, very intimate. We can imagine the time when the piece was being performed. It's for connoisseurs of music. The first movement, the violin and the piano play the melody, and the last movement is very quick and brilliant."

The trio will perform Maurice Ravel's (1875-1937) Trio in A Minor, one of the best-known pieces by one of the best-known French composers.

"As French players, we were born with Ravel's music," Pasquier said. "For me, this piece is a fantastic inspiration. It has a very fine harmony with many colors. It's a piece with some orchestral aspects. We can imagine many instruments playing, and that's the extraordinary technique Ravel had for orchestration. It's one of the best pieces in the 20th century in the repertoire of chamber music for piano."

The evening will conclude with Johannes Brahms' (1833-1897) Trio in C Minor, op. 101.

"All the Brahms have a marvelous melody," Pasquier said. "It's a dialogue between the string and the piano. It gets very fine. The string part is a little bit intimate. The last movement has a little Hungarian dance. The production is absolutely perfect. It's interesting, but very frantic sometimes."

• Korry Keeker can be reached at

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