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Amsterdam Klavier Trio at the Corcoran Gallery

KTA at Ionarts:

Jens F. Laurson, Tapping Along With the Klavier Trio Amsterdam (Ionarts, January 22, 2006)
On Friday evening the Amsterdam Klavier Trio presented a compelling program of piano trios by Haydn, Liszt, Berkhemer, and Tchaikovsky at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. With almost twenty years since joining forces, the Dutch ensemble performed with a cool assurance that may be obtained only through experience.

Haydn's Trio in C major, Hob. XV-27, with the witty Presto movement, was full of charm. In the Andante movement, the flourishes on the piano where the tempo eases were very natural; though, throughout the evening pianist (Klara Wϋrtz) never seemed to play truly softly. This reminds me of a Rostropovich proverb from one of his obituaries that roughly quipped, "one can never have forte without first experiencing piano."

Orphée, Poème Symphonique (transcribed by Saint-Saëns), by Liszt, had loads of atmosphere. The rolling arpeggios of the piano combined with the deep, rich cello tones (Nadia David) evoked Orpheus and lute. Near the end of the work, in an effort to emulate the forces of a full orchestra, all of the musicians had long tremolo notes that filled the room with waves of sound.

A piano trio in one movement written in the year 2000 by Joan Berkhemer, the group's violinist, featured the special effects of an echo chamber. For example, a two-note figure on the piano would be played that would then be echoed immediately four to five times on the violin, each time more softly. Later, long slow notes overlapped with one another to create a still atmosphere that allowed the mind to wander off in a pleasant way. Then there were more echoes with various instruments, and an unresolved ending.

The musical treasure of the program lay in the Tchaikovsky Piano Trio in A Minor. With its poetic tunes and collection of contrasting variations, this piece – when well played – is unforgettable. In a Romantic style similar to that of the Heifetz/Piatigorsky/Rubenstein Trio, the Amsterdam Klavier Trio embraced the challenges of this work and performed it with great dignity. The unhurried tempo of the first movement left time for true dialogue between the violin and cello, while the tempo relationships between the variations were cohesive. Having immense power in ff sections, the pianist sometimes over-pedaled through multiple phrases. At the mournful, lugubre ending, again, the pianist did not achieve a true pianissimo.

The concert had a rather clumsy beginning: unintroduced, a lady seated in the front row took to the stage with her cane and brought up questionable politics. This was unfortunate in that the last thing most members of the audience in the neighborhood of the State Department, White House, Bank-Fund, and Fed are keen to be lectured on is politics. Following that episode, a representative of the Gallery pitched the upcoming season, briefly. Astonishingly following this, as the representative was exiting the stage, a member of the audience bellowed at him to tell the audience to resubscribe for next season’s series. The representative then muttered something else and soon after, thankfully, the artists took over.

When the Corcoran publicly announces its season announcement, we will let you know. The last classical concert of the Corcoran's season is the Jenny Lind concert, featuring this year's Royal Swedish Academy of Music contest winners, soprano Paulina Pfeiffer and pianist Inese Klotina (June 14, 7 pm).

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