Concert to Come: International group Rosamunde Trio performs in Kansas City for the first time

The Rosamunde Trio in performance, featuring Ben Sayevich, violin; Martino Tirimo, piano; and Daniel Veis, cello (photo courtesy of Park ICM)

The acclaimed chamber ensemble with ties to Park University’s ICM takes the stage at the 1900 Building in January

Sympathetic musicianship and decades-long friendships sustain the Rosamunde Trio, an acclaimed chamber ensemble of international artists.

Rosamunde Trio is Martino Tirimo, piano; Ben Sayevich, violin; and Daniel Veis, cello. Both Sayevich and Veis are professors at Park University’s International Center for Music in Parkville, Missouri. Tirimo, born in Cyprus, lives in London. Lithuanian Israeli Sayevich lives in the Kansas City area and Veis divides his time between Parkville and Prague.

Over the last 20-plus years, most of their performances have been in Europe. Last year, they performed in London and, for the first time, presented a series of performances and masterclasses in Greece.

A Jan. 25 concert at the 1900 Building marks the first time the trio will perform in the Kansas City area.

The group was founded in 2002, but its history goes back even further. Tirimo and Veis met in the late 1970s, both soloists performing at a concert in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. “He was quite an experienced pianist and, well, we just liked each other,” said Veis. “It came very naturally that we played together.”

They started performing duo work — they’ve recorded the complete cello and piano works of Felix Mendelssohn — and wanted to expand to trio repertoire, but couldn’t find the right violinist, though they looked for years. During that same time, Veis was living in Prague, performing trios with his wife, Helena Veisova, and her father, violinist Vaclav Snitil. Veis also founded the Prague-based Dvořák Trio.

Around 1999, Veis met Sayevich at a festival in Prague; then Sayevich invited him to a festival in Maine. Their rapport was instant.

“Since the first moment we realized we had a close musical mindset,” said Sayevich. “We shared a mutual vision and interest in music making.”

“I thought, wow, this is the right guy to play piano trio with,” said Veis.

A few years later they all got together in London. “The first rehearsals were sort of, you know, sniffing around: ‘Who are these people?’” said Veis. “But then finally, we got closer to each other.”

“There was a strong chemistry among the three of us not only at the musical but also at the personal level,” said Sayevich.

Though they all have busy international performing schedules and teaching responsibilities, the three reunite about two or three times a year for performances. In the last two decades, they’ve performed much of the trio repertoire, including trios by Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Dmitri Shostakovich, Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Johannes Brahms and Antonín Dvořák, as well as a commissioned work, notably “Softly, in the dusk . . .” by Peter Fribbins. They’ve also expanded to piano quartet, with different violists from England and Germany. “Our activity is not strictly limited to piano trio,” Veis said.

“Just having fun and the joy of music making, that is the foundation of the group. We just, all three of us, we love to make music, to communicate through music,” said Veis.

The name came from the 1823 play “Rosamunde, Princess of Cypress,” in honor of Tirimo’s Cypriot heritage. Schubert wrote the incidental music for the play, then used the theme in his popular String Quartet in A minor, D 804, commonly called the Rosamunde Quartet.

In 2006, Sayevich started teaching at Park ICM. He recruited Veis, who has been with the center since 2010.

But they still maintained their international schedule with Rosamunde Trio. The group has performed all over Europe, particularly in London, with the King’s Place series and London Chamber Music Society.

It is their camaraderie that sustains the ensemble, said Sayevich: “the joy of making music together and the joy of spending time together in the interpretation of music.” As they have gotten older, he said, they see music with a different depth than 20 years ago.

The first part of the concert at 1900 Building will feature Tirimo performing solo works by Beethoven: 7 Ländlerische Tänze, WoO1 and selections from Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111.

Tirimo is a prolific recording artist and scholar, having recorded the complete piano works of Beethoven (over 20 hours of music), the complete Mozart piano sonatas, the complete Schubert piano sonatas, the complete piano works of Claude Debussy and Leoš Janáček and a range of other works.

A review of the Beethoven collection in the French publication “Artamag’” reads (translated): “It is no secret that the natural timbre of Martino Tirimo is one of the most beautiful among today’s pianists, ‘piano without hammers,’ deep and ample sound that never saturates the instrument, polyphonic clarity and keen sense of interior voices. This classic balance is used in Beethoven to erase moods and allow the music to be heard first and foremost.”

“Martino is an interesting interpreter of Beethoven,” said Sayevich. “It has been his companion for many years.”

As an ensemble, Rosamunde Trio has released two albums, both recorded in Prague: “Tchaikovsky & Shostakovich – Piano Trios” and “Dvořák – Piano Trios.”

The second half of the program features Trio No. 1 in G minor for piano, violin, and cello, Op. 15 by Bedřich Smetana.

The piece, written by the Czech composer, is dear to Veis. Smetana wrote it after the death of his four-year-old daughter, dedicated to her memory. The piece, said Veis, “reflects his feeling of this terrible loss.” And while it is a tragic piece, it ends with an uplifting tone. “The coda is saying, ‘well, death is not the end of everything. There is still a future we have to look for and go for.’”

“It ends in a positive way, which is a great experience in spirit,” said Sayevich.

They performed the piece at King’s Place last October. “People were really moved and excited about the work,” said Veis.

January presents a rare opportunity for the Kansas City audience to hear this exceptional ensemble. In addition to the performance, Tirimo will lead masterclasses with Park ICM students.

Rosamunde Trio performs at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the 1900 Building. For more information visit icm.park.edu.

Libby Hanssen

Originally from Indiana, Libby Hanssen covers the performing arts in Kansas City. She is the author of States of Swing: The History of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, 2003-2023. Along with degrees in trombone performance, Libby was a Fellow for the NEA Arts Journalism Institute at Columbia University. She maintains the culture bog "Proust Eats a Sandwich."

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