The three members of the Arioso Chamber Players gather most every week for rehearsals, and the same questions come up each week, according to Jaclyn LaRue, who plays oboe in the ensemble:
"Where does the music want to go? How do we make it exciting?"
Those are questions that feed into the trio's go-for-broke attitude about the music it tackles: "The other thing we do is, we go for it," LaRue said. "If there's a dynamic contrast, we really go for it. We don't hold anything back. ... Sometimes it's like jumping off a cliff."
Or, in the case of this weekend's Arioso concerts, three separate cliffs: The ensemble is performing three very distinct pieces that should offer dramatic contrasts.
"I can't think of a better program," LaRue said. The trio performs Saturday night in Albany and Sunday afternoon in Corvallis. (See the related story for details about the concerts.)
The centerpiece is a Beethoven masterpiece, his "Archduke" Trio in B-flat, a work that LaRue called a "pinnacle. ... You always want to play it better every time."
The piece also finds LaRue performing on oboe the part written for violin. "I have to do a lot of work," she said. "It really does work, but you have to be good."
The concert also features four of Max Bruch's "Eight Pieces," a work that LaRue called "very romantic and emotional." (This has been a good stretch for mid-valley Bruch fans; the Boreal Trio also performed some of these pieces at its Corvallis concert last Friday.)
And to add to the contrast, the concert also includes Paul Schoenfield's "Cafe Music," which LaRue called jazzy and fun.
Schoenfield himself described the work as "a kind of high-class dinner music — music which could be played at a restaurant, but might also (just barely) find its way into a concert hall."
LaRue said the piece is successful at evoking that mood: "I almost feel like putting a tip jar on the piano."
Cellist Tommy Leinonen and pianist Joy Ueng round out the players.