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In performance: Trio Solisti

Web-only review:

Trio Solisti offer over-rich, over-long program
by Joan Reinthaler

Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" can be a splashy and exciting crowd-pleaser . . . or, coming at the end of a long and overly opulent program as it did on Thursday at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, it can approximate the definition of eternity. The Trio Solisti played it in a fine arrangement by pianist Jon Klibonoff that preserved many of the colors and the clarity of Mussorgsky's original piano version but that spiced these up with clever assignments of roles to the strings. Klibonoff, violinist Maria Bachmann and cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach dug into the music with determination and had the chops needed to reflect constantly changing moods and states of energy. But sometimes context is everything, and, in the end, it felt like the end had been long overdue.
(read more after the jump)

The Mendelssohn Trio No. 2 in C Minor, Op 66 that opened the program fell on fresh ears and the performance, characterized by passion, lyricism, transparency and, in the finale, a sense of triumph, presented Mendelssohn at his most mature and romantic best. Klibonoff, not one to hover in the background for long, allowed the piano to dominate in places that are usually considered to be the domain of the strings, but he never overwhelmed them, and the resulting sonorities, while different, worked nicely.

Both Piazzolla's "Four Seasons of Buenos Aires," in an arrangement for the trio, and a Passacaglia, written by Paul Moravec, also turned out to have big romantic inclinations. The Passacaglia didn't start or end that way. Moravec had the piano fluttering high, dry, rapid repetitions of the four-note theme over violin harmonics, and there seemed to be a promise of interesting variations to come, but an almost Brahmsian spirit took over as the music developed and dominated until a return to the opening sonorities.

Any one of these pieces could have been wonderful in a different program with more variation in intensity. Together, however, heaping richness on richness, they overwhelmed each other.

-- Joan Reinthaler

By Anne Midgette  |  December 5, 2009; 5:31 PM ET
Categories:  local reviews  
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