Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chamber Music Guild: Trio Unnamed (Britton/Atherton/DeMio)

Beethoven: Trio, Op. 70 No. 1 (Ghost)
Schoenfield: Cafe Music (Andante moderato movement only)
Smetana: Trio, Op. 15
Susan Britton, violin; Linda Atherton, cello; Elizabeth DeMio, piano.
at Lyndhurst Community Presbyterian Church.

It's interesting -- I've heard the three musicians in tonight's (as yet, after 15 years, unnamed) trio but in varied contexts: Ms. Britton as my teacher, playing for Opera Cleveland, and new music with Cleveland Chamber Symphony; Ms. DeMio in collaboration with others at CIM; and Ms. Atherton in the pit for various Broadway-series shows at PlayhouseSquare -- but never in this context.

The audience was also interesting -- it seemed like I was the only person there who didn't know everyone else in attendance and it was one of the most social concert atmospheres I can recall outside of the house concert format giving a very welcoming atmosphere.

Full of variety, the program started with Beethoven's Ghost trio. Though the piano's tone was a bit bright to my ear it provided a glimpse of the wonderful musicality that we had to look forward to from tonight's musicians. The opening movement immediately stuck me as sweet but full flavor, while the third movement gave me a very Jekyll-and-Hyde vibe. The piece earned the Ghost nickname by way of its second movement, and while a person sitting behind me asked rhetorically "How could anyone miss the ghost?" it didn't strike me as such... Dark, certainly, but more sentimental than ghostly.

The next two pieces on the program were by composers that I'm not familiar with -- that should be expected, given my relative newness to classical music. Tonight I was not alone as many, if not most, of the audience announced a lack of familiarity; the same majority could later be heard offering compliments.

Closing the first half of the intermission we found one movement of Paul Schoenfield's Cafe Music. A bit on the mellow side, every instrument had a chance to shine as an extraordinarily lyrical song moved throughout the instruments, starting with the piano moving to a beautiful cello where it was matched on the violin, then the two bowed instruments had a chance at a bit of a duet. I'd certainly like to hear the other movements, particularly since Mr. Schoenfield resided in Cleveland Heights for a period of time.

Last, but certainly not least Smetana's Opus 15 trio. Lyrical throughout, as introduced by Ms. DeMio, the piece was composed shortly after his daughter's death. Opening with a bold statement from the violin, eventually joined by piano and later cello, in the first movement the composition held my interest throughout, but I loved the third movement. The third movement starts with almost an explosion of coordinated energy and quickly evokes the sense of a gallop; in this sense it's easy to imagine youthful energy playing about -- but this energy fades and is replaced with a somber and introspective feeling lead by the cello and an almost audible cry in the violin.

The galloping energy from earlier in the movement returned, though with slightly less clarity -- perhaps signaling a recovery -- only to end abruptly and the dark feeling returns, this time with a distinct cloud of mourning which hangs over the majority of the end of the movement. The end of the movement, though, is a burst of energy with a bit of the gallop mixed in: Perhaps to signify the end of Mr. Smetana's mourning or his daughter's freed spirit.

This program will be repeated Wednesday, December 8th at Noon at Trinity Cathedral, downtown Cleveland.


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