Chamberfest preview: Z.E.N. and the art of forming a supergroup trio

The expertise scouts at BBC Radio three have been onto one thing a few years in the past after they got here up with the vivid concept that pianist Zhang Zuo, violinist Esther Yoo and cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan ought to be part of forces.

Chosen as “New Generation Artists” by the classical radio station, the prodigious younger musicians have been enrolled in a two-year program that gave them alternatives to carry out and file. Most pivotal amongst them was the suggestion that the three crew as much as file Brahms’ Piano Trio No.1 in B main.

They did so in May 2015, and haven’t seemed again.

“We had all heard of each other but we had never met before. I was really excited about finally getting to work with them,” mentioned violinist Yoo. “We had a really, really great recording session, working together and rehearsing together. After that session, we talked and we wanted to continue working together as a trio.”

While Yoo, Zuo and Hakhnazaryan pursue busy careers as soloists, in addition they unite to kind the Z.E.N. Trio, a moniker derived from the initials of their first names. The group, which launched its debut album final fall on Deutsche Grammophon, performs Ottawa on Saturday evening.

Yoo, who lately turned 24, is the trio’s youngest member. But she is under no circumstances missing in expertise. When she was 16, the American-Korean violinist was the youngest ever prize-winner at the 2010 International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in Helsinki. In early 2016, she launched her debut album of concertos by Glazunov and Sibelius, with the Philharmonia Orchestra performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Zuo, a 29-year-old who goes by the nickname “Zee Zee,” left her residence in Shenzhen in southern China at the age of 5 to start musical coaching in Germany. A frequent award-winner, she has carried out with orchestras from London to Hong Kong to Shanghai to Tenerife.

Hakhnazaryan, the 29-year-old son of an Armenian violinist, was mentored by the late Mstislav Rostropovich, a Russian who was thought of one of the biggest cellists of the final century. The first-prize winner at the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition has carried out with orchestras in Paris, London, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Berlin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Sydney and Seoul.

On paper, the trio can seem to be a bit of a supergroup in the making. But Yoo makes clear that along with musical talents, friendship and a clean match of personalities are essential to the trio’s success.

“We connected quite easily musically and also personally,” she says. “Chamber music requires way more rehearsal than a soloist taking part in with orchestra. It’s the quantity of time you spend collectively, and I believe with any form of human connection you wish to spend time with individuals you really like and get pleasure from being with.

“We all get alongside personally,” Yoo provides. “We have similar interests, senses of humour. Our rehearsals are all full of laughter. It’s just a really fun time together.”

When they’re not collectively, the trio’s members are scattered all through Europe. Yoo splits her time between Brussels and London. Zuo relies in Berlin, Hakhnazaryan in Vienna. However, they block off time, a lot upfront, for touring and making ready for performances. Last fall, the trio toured in the United Kingdom and China. This summer time, it performs in North America and subsequent yr will deliver extra concert events in the U.S.

Yoo fondly recollects the trio’s go to to China. “That was really fun because Narek and I had not been to a lot of the cities that we were touring. Zee Zee, she could really take us around and introduce us to her friends and take us to really great restaurants, and we could experience the culture together. That was a really memorable trip, not just for the music and the concerts but also just as friends, to have that experience.”

Occasionally, the trio’s members will stumble upon each other when their impartial travels intersect. “Sometimes we find each other in the same city or we’re passing through … we meet as friends more often than we meet as a trio. We do all the normal things. We hang out, we watch movies, we go out to eat, we see mutual friends all together.”

In Ottawa, the live performance’s first half will current duos — Yoo will play Mendelssohn’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in F minor, whereas Hakhnazaryan might be featured on Shostakovich’s Cello Sonata in D minor. Then, the trio will play Dvořák’s “Dumky” piano trio, a staple of its repertoire.

“It’s a piece that really suits our musical style and our youth. It’s a very vibrant trio,” Yoo says.

Z.E.N. Trio
When: Saturday, July 28, 7 p.m.
Where: Dominion-Chalmers United Church

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