Programme note

This piano trio was written at the request of Hein Spanjaard on the occasion of the 150-year anniversary of Schouwburg Odeon, Zwolle, which was built in 1839 as a smaller version of the Burgtheater in Vienna.

The title — O — not only refers to Odeon, but may also be read as a circle, thus being an indication of the many cyclic aspects of this composition. The structure of each piece, for example, is based on the regular reappearance of the same musical material,  and harmonic details are influenced by cyclic processes.

All possible combinations of the three instruments are used in the course of the composition. Beginning with a solo for the violin, the piece gradually shifts the attention to the other instruments, to end with a solo for piano.

As a whole, the piece has a restful rather than exciting, a contemplative rather than contending character.

Scored for:

  • violin
  • violoncello
  • piano

Duration: ca. 15 minutes

First performance:

21 May 1990, Schouwburg Odeon, Zwolle, by the Leonardo Trio (Jaap Kooi, piano; Frank de Groot, violin; Koen Schouten, violoncello)

Publication: Amsterdam: Donemus, © 1996

Score example

From the press:

“A refined, searching music, sparingly and transparently (...) a mysterious pizzicato of seven tones, separated by rests, followed by possibly even more unreal, glassy flageolets.”

[NRC, 22 May 1990]

"(...) Van Emmeriks O / 7 pieces for 3 instruments [was] the most convincing piece of the evening. Van Emmerik was the only one who managed to separate himself from that compelling line between the beginning and the end. His material is sparingly, but due to the restrictions he imposes, he creates space for every sound. The initial contradiction between plucked and bowed notes disappears and by ever further refinement in play mode they are increasingly in line with each other. "

[De Volkskrant, 11 June 1990]

"The main characteristic of the performance was good craftmanship, not just in terms of precision, but also of interpretation, without the individual players coming to the fore from the group; the pianist Snorri Sigfús Birgisson was often very fine in molding musical nuances in accents, especially in the work of Van Emmerik (one of the ‘older’ composers), consisting of seven pieces on the basis of a number of solo’s and duets, between which the musical content moves without a true interaction, but rather in an interaction of musical ideas. In addition to Snorri, Gerður Gunnarsdóttir and Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir played very beautifully, both in their solos as well as in their playing together, especially in this exceptionally sympathetic and euphonious work by Van Emmerik."

[Morgunblaðið, 5 January 1993]

Other performances

O / 7 pieces for 3 instruments has been performed by various ensembles: after the premiere by the Leonardo Trio on 21 May 1990 in Zwolle, it was played among other places

- in Amsterdam on 8 June and The Hague on 10 June 1990 during the Holland Festival in Shaffytheater Amsterdam and Korzo Den Haag by Jan-Erik van Regteren Altena, violin, Taco Kooistra, violoncello and René Eckhardt, piano;

- in Darmstadt on 26 July 1990 by members of the Ives Ensemble (Josje ter Haar, violin, Job ter Haar, violoncello and John Snijders, piano) during the Darmstädter Ferienkurse 1990 (Germany);

- in Reykjavík on 3 January 1993 by members of the Caput Ensemble (Gerður Gunnarsdóttir, violin, Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir, violoncello and Snorri Sigfús Birgisson, piano) in the Kjarvalsstaðir Reykjavík art museum (Iceland);

- in Arnhem on April 26, 1993 by students of the University of the Arts (Helle Karlsson, violin, Tjakina Oosting, violoncello and Frans Coerwinkel, piano);

- in Fribourg and Basel on 16 and 17 May 1998 by members of Ensemble Kontext (Suzanne Vischer, violin, Tobias Moster, violoncello and Anmari Willi, piano) in  Center le Phénix Fribourg and Kaskadenkondensator Basel (Switzerland).

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