Sunday, November 12, 2017

Curium Begins New Season in San Francisco

 Curium (photograph by Oscar Nuñez)

Curium is the piano trio of (in left-to-right order in the photograph above) violinist Agnieszka Peszko, pianist Rachel Kim, and cellist Natalie Raney. The group chose to name itself after the 96th element in the periodic table. This is one of the transuranic elements, so called because they are found after uranium in the periodic table. These elements do not occur naturally but are produced by bombarding other radioactive elements, such as uranium or plutonium, with neutrons. The first production of curium took place in 1944 at the University of California at Berkeley, achieved by a group led by Glenn T. Seaborg, who won the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his synthesis, discovery, and investigation of ten transuranic elements. (Back when I was in high school, I remember getting up very early to see Seaborg reviewed on a television program called Continental Classroom. He was not the only Nobel laureate to make an appearance on that program.)

Curium is named after the husband-and-wife couple of pioneering researchers into the nature of radioactivity. They shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics for their efforts. For the members of the Curium trio, Marie is a symbol of the innovations of female minds, past and present. As might be guessed, they are developing a repertoire with a specialty in the music of female composers. They also have an interest in discovering the music of composers, both past and present, whose works have been largely neglected. Thus the name of of the trio has as much to do with acts of discovery as it does with innovative women. This coming Friday the trio will present the first in a series of concerts they have planned for the 2017–2018 season at a variety of venues throughout the Bay Area.

The female composer to be highlighted at this concert will be Clara Schumann with a performance of her Opus 17 piano trio in G minor. While Schumann’s trio is not entirely neglected by the prevailing chamber music repertoire, an encounter with the music of Ludomir Różycki is likely to be a journey of discovery for just about everyone reading this. Różycki was a member of the Young Poland group of composers, whose best-known member is probably Karol Szymanowski. Różycki has an IMSLP page, but only nine compositions are listed there. Fortunately, one of them is his Opus 33 rhapsody for piano trio; and Curium will perform it as the second selection on their program. The second half of the program will then bring the audience back to its comfort zone with a performance of Antonín Dvořák’s Opus 90 (“Dumky”) piano trio in E minor.

This recital will being at 7 p.m. this coming Friday, November 17. The venue will be the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic church, which is located in the Castro at 100 Diamond Street, on the southwest corner of 18th Street. There will be no charge for admission, but a donation of $20 is suggested.

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