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Keyed In: Lysander Piano Trio to perform at Rio Rancho High School

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Lysander Piano Trio’s Saturday, Nov. 19, concert represents two separate but related collaborations.

One is the inherent musical collaboration between and among the three young trio members.

The other collaboration is organizational. It is between Music in Corrales and Midori’s Partners-in-Performance program.

Midori, the famed classical violinist, invited the Lysander to perform in Music in Corrales’ 30th anniversary season. The concert will be at the Rio Rancho High School’s Performing Arts Center.

It’s a follow-up to Midori’s own sold-out recital last year under the auspices of the same presenting organization.

The Lysander’s musicians met when they were graduate students at New York’s Juilliard School. The trio started out in 2009, but its members did not mark the actual birth of the ensemble until 2012, the year it won a Concert Artists Guild Competition, said Lysander pianist Liza Stepanova.

Now, four years later, they are busy juggling their work as Lysander members and as solo artists.

In Stepanova’s case, there’s another element to her schedule: She is also a piano professor at the University of Georgia.

The Lysander’s Rio Rancho concert program opens with Franz Joseph Haydn’s Trio in F-sharp Minor.

“Haydn writes in a wide variety of keys, and each key has a beautiful characteristic,” Stepanova said. “This one has a sadness and an urgency to the first movement. The second movement is in F-sharp minor. … He writes a beautiful melody in that key that transports us to a different world.”

Another work on the program is Jakub Ciupinski’s “The Black Mirror,” which the composer wrote for the Lysander’s Carnegie Hall debut in 2014. It draws on pop and classical influences, Stepanova said.

“It’s an absolutely hypnotic piece. The title comes from a device painters used to look at nature through a blackened lens for a painting that has an almost supernatural color,” she said.

At the end of the first half, the trio will play Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Elegiac Trio No. 1.

“It’s an early piece but fully formed, and it has a gorgeous melody for every instrument and lots of virtuosity,” Stepanova explained.

In the second half, the Lysander will perform Antonín Dvorák’s Piano Trio No. 4 (“Dumky”).

Instead of four large movements, this piece has six small movements that alternate between songs and dances.

“The trio was written before he (visited) the United States. It’s an homage to his Czech homeland, a colorful, heartfelt farewell. It’s not sad but a wonderful, folk-inspired homage,” Stepanova said.

The other Lysander musicians are violinist Itamar Zorman and cellist Michael Katz.

The trio will also give a master class for three local youth ensembles at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at the high school. It is free and open to the public.