Poulenc Trio

William Welter, oboe

Keith Buncke, bassoon

Beilin Han, piano

August 4, 2020

Rush Hour Concerts

Robbie Ellis, host


Francis Poulenc – Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano, FP 43

I. Presto

II. Andante

III. Rondo

Asako Hirabayashi –  Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano

Movement 1

Movement 2

Movement 3

André Previn – Trio for piano, oboe, and bassoon

I. Lively

II. Slow

III. Jaunty

William Welter was appointed Principal Oboe of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Music Director Riccardo Muti in June 2018. Prior to his appointment to the CSO, Welter performed as a guest musician with the Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, New York Philharmonic and as guest principal oboe of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Welter was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and participated in several esteemed music festivals including Aspen Music Festival, Bravo Vail Festival and Music Academy of the West. He also participated in Music from Angelfire by invitation of acclaimed violinist Ida Kavafian.

A native of Omaha, Nebraska and raised in Crescent, Iowa, William Welter is a 2016 graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Richard Woodhams, the longtime Principal Oboe of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Welter completed an Artist Diploma at the Oberlin Conservatory under the instruction of Robert Walters. His other teachers include Eugene Izotov, former Principal Oboe of the CSO and current Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Symphony, and Christopher Philpotts, Principal English Horn of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Welter is an alumnus of the Interlochen Arts Academy, where he studied with Daniel Stolper.

Keith Buncke began his tenure as Principal Bassoon of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in July 2015, having been appointed to the position by Music Director Riccardo Muti. He previously served as Principal Bassoon of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, a post to which he was appointed in 2014 while still attending the Curtis Institute of Music.

At the age of eleven, Keith Buncke heard a recording of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no. 1, with prominent parts for the oboe and bassoon, and was immediately struck by the sound of the double-reed instruments, favoring the bassoon in the end. Growing up in Portland, Oregon, he went on to study at the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Curtis Institute. He has also studied at the Pacific, Tanglewood, and Aspen music festivals, as well as Music Academy of the West. His principal teachers include Daniel Matsukawa, Dr. Eric Stomberg, and Mark Eubanks.

Working with acclaimed artists like pianist Mitsuko Uchida and violinist Vadim Gluzman, Keith has performed chamber music around the country at festivals like Marlboro Music Festival and La Jolla Music Society. He has been a regular guest artist and teacher at Aspen Music Festival and the Interlochen Academy and Camp, and has given masterclasses at universities across the country. He is an adjunct faculty at DePaul University.

Born in Shanghai, China, Beilin Han started piano lesson at the age three. After four years of studies, she won 1st prize at a young artist competition in Shanghai. Ms. Han attended the Shanghai Conservatory of Music for primary and middle school. She was the winner of the 8th Hong Kong International Piano Competition and was awarded the highest scholarship available in China. In 1996, Ms. Han recorded and sold her first CD, and in 1997,was accepted by Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore under a full scholarship. After graduating, Ms. Han attended the University of Kansas for her master’s degree as the only full scholarship recipient. There she studied with famous American pianist Jack Winerock and world-renowned Portuguese pianist Sequeira Costa. Under Costa’s instruction, Ms. Han won prizes in many prestigious competitions including first place in the Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Scholarship Competition, the Kansas City National Scholarship Competition, as well as the Naftzger National Young Artist Competition. In 2004, Ms. Han became a prizewinner of the “Vianna Da Motta International Piano Competition” in Portugal. In addition to the competitive world, Ms. Han was invited to perform at the 7th Annual World Piano Pedagogy Conference in Las Vegas in 2002 and was honored as a Young Artist in 2003. She was invited to perform Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with University of Kansas Symphony Orchestra, Mozart Piano Concerto in A Major (K.488) with T’ang Quartet in Singapore and Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 with Portugal’s Gulbenkian Orchestra.

Ms. Han has toured internationally as a concert pianist performing in China, Portugal, Spain, and throughout the US. Her performances have been heard on radio shows in Singapore, the U.S., and a television show in Shanghai. In 2008, Ms. Han graduated from Roosevelt University,  where she received her Artistic Diploma with Dr. Solomon Mikowsky and Mr.Meng-Chieh Liu.

In addition to Ms. Han’s successful solo career, she enjoys collaborating with other musicians, she constantly appears in Chicago Culture Center, The Stradivari Society and Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a collaborative pianist and collaborating with such artists as pianist Alberto Portugheis, world-renowned counter-tenor Paul Esswood, world-renowned violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Ilya Kaler, Yossif Ivanov, Kyoko Takezawa, Elmar Oliveira, Frank Almond, Violists Roger Chase, Robert Vernon,  cellist Timothy Eddy, Flautists stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson, Jean Ferrandis, Clarinetist Stephen Williamson, Steven Cohen.She has also worked with world-famous conductors such as Riccardo Muti and Christoph Eschenbach.

Ms. Han was also invited to be on the jury panel of Walgreen National Concerto Competition and Dover Quartet Chamber Music Competition. She is currently the coordinator of piano faculty of Heifetz International Music Institute, collaborative pianist at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music and DePaul University School of Music.

Fast Facts:

  • First visited and toured the USA in 1948 including a visit to Chicago! Would go on to visit the USA again in 1960 and 1961.
  • His last major work, Oboe Sonata written in 1962 would foreshadow the end of his life, being in a much different light then his early Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano. His Sonata was written ‘in memory of Serge Prokofiev’, ending with a rather unexpected third movement titled Déploration, meaning to deeply regret or lament.
  • Poulenc died from a heart attack at the age of 64. Poulenc requested only the music of Bach to be played at his funeral, wanting the simplest of ceremonies.

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano, FP 43 (1926)

I.  Presto

II. Andante

III. Rondo

Born to an affluent Parisian family, Francis Poulenc first learned piano from his mother who was an amateur pianist. Being part of a well-off family, music was not encouraged as a career, leading Francis to largely teach himself composition. From 1918-1921 Poulenc was enlisted in the French Army during the last months of the First World War and immediately after. During part of 1918, he served at the Franco-German front, following with multiple auxiliary posts, and ultimately ending as a typist. This left him plenty of time to compose. In the early 1920s, Poulenc was also deeply impressed with Erik Satie and Dadaism after meeting him. Soon after Satie encouraged Poulenc to join the group that would eventually be called Les Six, akin to the Russuan Five or to a modern day composer collective. Les Six led the neoclassical movement, rejecting the ongoing Romantic musical style.

Program Notes:

Poulenc’s trio has become a standard in the canon for double reed artists around the world, showing off both oboe and bassoon equally, while also involving a proportionally tricky piano part. This work was written earlier in his life, while he was still studying with Koechlin, making it even more impressive having been written with such expertise of these difficult instruments.

Poulenc describes his Trio best stating: 

“I worked on it a lot. It’s in a style new to me yet at the same time very Poulenc. I quite like my “Trio” because it comes over clearly and is well balanced. For those who think I don’t care about form, I wouldn’t hesitate to reveal my secrets here: the first movement follows the plan of a Haydn “allegro”, and the final “Rondo” that of the “scherzo” from the second movement of Saint-Saëns’ “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (“Entretiens”).”

 – Excerpt taken from Poulenc’s letter to the critic Paul Collaer in November 1924

Notes by Ashley Ertz

Asako Hirabayashi (b. 1960)

Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano (2016)

Movement 1  

Movement 2

Movement 3

A harpsichordist and composer, Asako Hirabayashi’s first recording on Albany Label, whose program is entirely composed and played by herself, was selected as one of the top ten albums of the year 2018 and won the Gold Medal Award by the Global Music Awards. It was also selected as one of the 5 best classical CDs of the year 2010 by Minneapolis Star Tribune. It received 7 favorable reviews internationally. She won numerous grants and awards including the 2009 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians and 2 Minnesota State Arts Board’s Artist Initiative grants as a soloist. As a composer, she won 2016 McKnight Fellowship for Composers, several first prizes in Alienor International Harpsichord Composition Competition (won the 6th, 7th and 8th consecutively) and NHK International Song Writing Competition in Japan. She was awarded 2012 Jerome Fund for New Music by American Composers Forum to write her first opera Yuki-onna (Snow Witch) and a 2019 Schubert Club Composer Award to complete her second opera Hebi-onna (Snake Woman). She has appeared as a featured guest soloist in international festivals and concert series worldwide since her New York debut recital at Carnegie Hall. Her live performance of own composition was featured in the US’ most popular classical music program Performance Today in 2018. She holds a Doctoral degree in Harpsichord Performance from the Juilliard School and a master’s degree in composition from Aichi Art University in Japan.


Program Notes:

Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano (2016) dedicated to and premiered by Kathryn Greenbank (Oboe) and Charles Ullery (Bassoon) and Asako Hirabayashi (piano) at Bauman Fine Arts Series at Parkway United Church of Christ in Minneapolis in 2016. Premiere live recording has been broadcasted through MPR’s Performance Today several times.

Fast Facts:

  • His family was Jewish and fled to America from Paris to escape the Nazi’s in 1939. 
  • Nominated for 13 Academy awards, won 4 times. Won 10 Grammy Awards as well as the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Married 5 times. 3rd Marriage was to Mia Farrow who had previously been married to Frank Sinatra. His 5th marriage was to the infamous violinist Ann-Sophie Mutter, which ended in divorce in 2006.

André Previn (1929-2019) 

Trio for piano, oboe, and bassoon (1996)

       I. Lively  

II. Slow 

III. Jaunty

Conductor, composer, pianist, author and educator, André Previn shifted between roles almost as much as he did musical styles, including everything from jazz to classical styles in his compositions. Previn was born in Berlin and would move with his family to Paris at the age of 9. The following year his family moved to Los Angeles leading him to pursue a career as a jazz pianist, as well as an orchestrator and arranger for MGM studios. In his early twenties he was studying with Pierre Monteux, the Music Director of San Francisco Symphony at the time, hoping to break onto the concert stage. He would make his orchestral conducting debut with the Saint Louis Symphony in 1962 followed by appointments with Pittsburgh Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, London Symphony and Royal Philharmonic to name a few. Simultaneously, he made his first mark as an orchestrator, earning Oscars for his scoring of notable films such as Porgy and Bess (1959) and My Fair Lady (1964).

Program Notes:

In the 1990s Previn would take a step back from conducting full-time in order to spend more time composing, leading to the production of numerous concertos, two operas and many chamber works. This includes his Trio for oboe, bassoon, and piano, which was composed in 1994 and premiered in 1996. Critics note the similarities between Previn’s Trio and that of Francis Poulenc’s which you heard earlier on this program. Previn plays with styles, shifting from a more classical era style to that of a lament and then to a rather jazzy finale all within twenty minutes. It’s a rollercoaster of style and feelings you can’t help but enjoy.

Notes by Ashley Ertz

The Rush Hour Concerts series is supported in part by awards from the National Endowment for the Arts

and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Don’t miss Stephen Williamson and the Chen String Quartet next week on

Rush Hour Concerts!

Tuesday August 11, 5:45pm

Pin It on Pinterest