On Saturday night at Jim Rouse Theatre in Columbia, it'll be two dynamic young chamber ensembles for the price of one.
At 8 p.m., Candlelight Concerts of Columbia will present the Eroica Piano Trio and the St. Lawrence String Quartet in a joint program featuring works by Schumann, Ravel and Dvorak.
Pianist Erika Nickrenz, violinist Adela Pena and cellist Sara Sant'Ambrogio have become one of the most exciting and popular piano trios performing today.
Known collectively as the Eroica Trio, after the subtitle given to the heroic Third Symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven, these three women won the prestigious Naumburg Award in 1991. Since then, they have maintained a busy national and international concert schedule while recording three releases for EMI Classics that have yielded several nominations for Grammy Awards.
While the works on Saturday's program are all ensconced in the mainstream repertoire, the group is known for its commitment to diverse, adventurous programming. Their latest EMI recording, "Pasion," features music from Argentinian, Brazilian and Spanish composers such as Piazzolla, Villa-Lobos and Turina.
Trio members and their families share quite a musical history.
Nickrenz and Pena have been performing together since they were children. Nickrenz and Sant'Ambrogio studied piano and chamber music with Sant'Ambrogio's grandmother, Isabelle Sant'Ambrogio.
As a teen-ager, Pena coached chamber music with Sara Sant'Ambrogio's father, John Sant'Ambrogio, principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony.
In their formative years together, the trio members worked extensively with John Sant'Ambrogio and noted violist Scott Nickrenz, Erica Nickrenz's, father.
The Eroica Trio's compact discs for EMI have been produced by Erika Nickrenz's mother, Joanna Nickrenz, a three-time Grammy Award winner.
The trio will be joining forces with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, a Canadian foursome that has risen to prominence over its 11 years on the international music scene.
Geoff Nuttall and Barry Shiffman, violins; Lesley Robertson, viola; and Marina Hoover, cello, also record for EMI, and their 1999 release of the First and Third String Quartets of Robert Schumann is one of the finest chamber releases of recent years.
They will perform Quartet No. 3 in A major on Saturday evening. Schumann, the quintessential composer of the Romantic era, created all three of his high-energy string quartets in a two-week span in 1842, at age 32. The intensity of his writing suits the St. Lawrence members very well as their remarkable recording makes clear.
Maurice Ravel's Piano Trio in A minor, which the Eroica Trio will play, is one of the great chamber works of the 20th century.
Reminiscent of Ravel's extraordinarily colorful ballet score "Daphnis and Chloe," it is one of the most orchestrally conceived piano trios of them all.
Members of the Eroica and St. Lawrence ensembles will combine for the lush, warm-hearted A major Piano Quintet of Antonin Dvorak.
It is a work replete with beauty and, like just about everything else Dvorak composed, the songful melodies and rhythms of the Czech people are never far off.
Candlelight Concerts will present Eroica Piano Trio and St. Lawrence String Quartet at 8 p.m. Saturday at Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts at Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road, Columbia. General admission is $24; senior citizens $18; and students: $9. Tickets and information: 410-715-0034 or 301-596-6203.