Joe Trio
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Joe Trio

| SELF | AFM

| SELF | AFM
Band Classical Comedy

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"Not Your Average Piano Trio"



Not Your Average Piano Trio

"Talking about music is like dancing about architecture." This penetrating remark -- various ascribed to, among others, Duke Ellington, Laurie Anderson and Elvis Costello -- flashed though my mind on Sunday afternoon as Joe Trio pianist Allen Stiles was "explaining" Vancouver composer Douglas Smith's Trio.

There were definite hints of the terpsichorean as Stiles spread his arms wide to describe the opening harmonies, an attempt rendered superfluous by the excellent performance which immediately followed.

Joe Trio is definitely "not your average piano trio" and I cannot be the only member of Sunday's audience who left their concert with an idiotic grin on his face. Their ability to switch almost instantaneously from "high art" to high camp is a delight; their playing is first class and their collective sense of humour indispensable.

On the "serious" side, I found their account of Mendelssohn's Trio Op.66 most rewarding; not for Joe Trio the received image of Mendelssohn as a delicate, even somewhat effete would-be classicist. Rarely, in fact, have I heard the opening movement taken at such a cracking pace, nor live so well up to its con fuoco marking.

Their Haydn, on the other hand, although very well played, suffered from a rather dominant piano sound and the apparent inability, shared by many young musicians, to relax fully. True elegance wears a soft, rather than a stiff collar.

But where to begin describing their less conventional material? The opening Stephane Grapelli-influenced romp through Sweet Georgia Brown? the haunting account of J. Ungar's Ashokan Farewell?

No, for me, the true highlights were two compositions by violinist Cameron Wilson (looking like nothing so much as a grown up Harry Potter), which combined a marvellous sense of irreverent fun with a wide-ranging musical eclecticism.

The Pink Panther Variations depicts two centuries of musical development via nine variations on Henry Mancini's famous theme, including brilliant pastiches of Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky (the Rite of Spring), Webern (more in the tersely cryptic style of the Op.6 pieces rather than his later serialism), Shostakovich (the Cello Concerto No.1) Elvis Presley and (gulp!) Deep Purple. A tour-de-force both as composition and performance.

Finally, Edge of Joe, a mini soap opera, with incidental music by, among others, Rachmaninoff, Bizet, Brahms, Debussy, Schumann, Tchaikovsky and whoever it was who wrote "How much is that doggie in the window?" It all seemed to make sense at the time.

Serious music, as all true musicians and music-lovers know, does not have to be taken too seriously. Joe Trio strike exactly the right balance of respect and irreverence.

A most auspicious opening of the 13th Eine Kleine Summer Music; the next concert is next Sunday at 2:30. - Victoria Times Colonist


Discography

Joe Trio - A Cup of Joe
Joe Trio - Set em up, Joe

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Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

JOE TRIO is not your average piano trio, but that's the point. The trio doesn't wish to be neatly categorized. Instead they strive for diversity, versatility and more than a little humour and unpredictability. Their repertoire consists of the classics - from Haydn to Shostakovich - new works by contemporary composers, and their own arrangements of popular, jazz and rock tunes. The trio is not only virtuosi, they are fantastic performers that engage the audience in a way few classical musicians can. Amply witty, charming and tremendously musical, Joe Trio leaves audiences with a new appreciation for classical music.