Trio Solisti at Maverick

I can’t think of anything better than relaxing on a Sunday afternoon, sitting on a bench and enjoying being outside (well, on a bench sheltered from the rain that seems to have taken summer hostage), listening to Trio Solisti rehearse for their performance at Maverick Concerts in Woodstock, NY. I can’t think of anything better than that except hearing the actual concert, that is! The trio played at Maverick this past Sunday, and the scenario listed above is the one I found myself in. There’s something peaceful and enchanting about the woods surrounding the concert space, and that makes the music heard there all the more enjoyable. It’s nice to get to Maverick early for two reasons: first, that means you’ll get a good spot in line, therefore getting a good seat when the doors open, secondly, anticipation is built by hearing fragments of the wonderful music that is to come! (It’s also quite nice to talk to other classical music enthusiasts who are waiting as well).

Trio Solisti is Jon Klibonoff on piano, Alexis Pia Gerlach on cello, and Maria Bachmann on violin (Maria will also be playing at Maverick this coming Saturday, along with Andrew Armstrong on piano and Wendy Sutter on cello, as part of “Wild Nights.” Included on the program will be the area premiere of Philip Glass’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, which I am very much looking forward to hearing). Something truly extraordinary happens when the musicians of Trio Solisti play; the music takes on a spirit all it’s own.

Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97, “Archduke”
Ludwig van Beethoven

Allegro moderato
Scherzo e trio: Allegro
Andante cantabile ma pero con moto – Poco piu adagio – Tempo I (attacca:)
Allegro moderato – Presto

Rhapsody for Violin and Piano No. 1, BB 94a
Bela Bartok

Prima Parte: Lassu (Moderato)
Seconda Parte: Fris (Allegretto moderato)

Piano Trio No. 2 in C Major, Op. 87
Johannes Brahms

Allegro – Animato
Andante con moto
Scherzo: Presto
Finale: Allegro giocoso

Beethoven’s mesmerizing “Archduke” piano trio opens with piano playing solo for a few measures, before being joined by violin and cello. The first movement floats through the air, accompanied by bursts of ferocity. Trio Solisti’s playing was dazzling, yet seemingly effortless (not an easy act to pull off). Midway, the music sneaks onward as piano plays slightly jazzily, and violin and cello are plucked. The movement then returns to the sweet opening, rises in fervor, quiets back down, then surges with passion once more, flying to an impressive close — one which nearly caused some of the audience at Maverick to applaud between movements. The Scherzo second movement is clean and precise, and the musicians control was unparalleled, as was their timing. Piano introduces the third movement with a gentle, mournful melody. When cello and violin enter, playing together, the chords are majestic, and almost hymnal. The beauty is ceaseless, flowing from one note to the next. The tempo of the third movement changes from Andante cantabile to Poco piu adagio, then back to the original tempo. The return to the opening tempo of the third movement — with music even more majestic than in the beginning — runs right into the fourth and final movement, Allegro Moderato – Presto. The last movement flaunts itself throughout, never more so than towards the end. The music increases in power, and dashes to a fantastic finish.

Maria gave a very interesting and enlightening short talk on the history of Bartok’s music, and Hungary (of which her parents are natives, having moved to the U.S. in 1956). Particularly interesting was her explanation of how in Hungarian language — which, as it turns out, she is fluent in — the accent is on the first syllable, which translates into Hungarian music. Maria’s playing of Bartok’s rhapsody scorched with passion, and escalated to a point of madness. In other words, she did the piece justice — as it did her. I don’t know if that has anything to do with her heritage, for she has the same intensity when playing any composer or piece, but gypsy folk themes are clearly evident in a lot of Bartok’s music, and she played the rhapsody with true spirit.

Tightly compressed and energetic from the opening, Brahms’ second piano trio is elastic, stretching and pulling, forming a lithe blanket of glorious sound. At times the music plummets to great depths, then flies beyond the clouds, enveloping the listeners mind with it’s magnificence. I love for music to take my imagination captive, and by Trio Solisti’s playing of Brahms, it was. That was most true during the second movement, which is darkly beautiful. The duet between violin and cello is exquisite (not to mention heartbreaking), while piano plays moodily. The music grows in strength, bursting briefly into the sun, before returning to the shadows. The melody holds a tale of regret, sorrow, and despair, yet is somehow soothing. For the opening of the third movement, the pauses are almost as important as the music. Trio Solisti’s playing was stunning, naturally. Curling in unrestrained glory, the movement is absolutely riveting. And then it is gone as quickly as it came. The last movement has a little bit of a lot: legato, staccato, power, delicacy, sweetness, angst… Everything wonderful about classical music, all in one. Just when you think the piece can’t get any more intense, it does, and the excitement mounts until the very end. Trio Solisti’s performance was over all too soon, but my joy from it lingers on.

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