If you were not at The Society of the Four Arts Sunday afternoon, you missed an amazing opportunity to hear a trio of musicians who have dazzled the concert stage in Europe and the United States.
The Tempest Trio with violinist Ilya Kaler, pianist Alon Goldstein and cellist Amit Peled thrilled the audience with its precise ensemble and exceptional musicianship. The member’s solo reputations extend from Carnegie Hall to more than 20 CDs. In this performance, the musicians displayed their immense skill with a broad spectrum of styles from Joseph Haydn to Leonard Bernstein.
Haydn’s Piano Trio No. 39 in G Major began the program with short themes and humor that caused the piece to be nicknamed the “Gypsy.” Here, the highly decorative keyboard part was perfectly executed and imitated in the other instruments. The group avoided the tendency to use too much vibrato in the string parts and adhered to stylistic norms for the historic period. In the rondo, the chosen tempo tested the collective technique of the players.
In contrast to the limited harmonic vocabulary of the period, Bernstein’s Piano Trio opened the door to the 20th century use of “tone clusters,” exploring shocking melodic intervals that gave the piece intensity. The creative use of syncopation, a typical device that Bernstein used to energize his works, was performed with energy and a high degree of precision. Here, the audience expected the dissonant sounds written by the university student Bernstein as an exercise in modern composition.
The position of this style of piece in the program is intended to let the audience recover during an intermission by presenting an opportunity to discuss the various aspects of the music they had just heard. The skill of the performance brought them back for Antonin Dvorak’s Piano Trio No. 3 in F Minor, Op.65, a highly dramatic work based on large scale themes set in the chromatic harmony of the period. This romantic piece brought out the sensitive phrasing of the highly talented group and once again challenged their skill.
The audience responded with an immediate standing ovation and was rewarded with an encore.
Tempest Trio delivers rousing performance as departing Fontana Chamber Arts CEO Abhijit Sengupta bids farewell
In preparing to assume a new executive post in California, Fontana Chamber Arts Artistic Director/CEO Abhijit Sengupta made sure to continue presenting top talent here, his home for the past four years. Saturday night, at Dalton Center Recital Hall, he offered his thanks and farewells to supporters of the Fontana, before introducing the night’s performers, the Tempest Trio.
Founded five years ago, the Tempest features pianist Alon Goldstein, violinist Ilya Kaler and cellist Amit Peled. All three have carried on solo careers in addition to the Tempest ensemble. This, because despite each’s individual, highly distinctive timbre, when playing together they miraculously create an engaging blend.
Sengupta also remarked that Saturday’s all-Brahms concert was more “mainstream” than many other Fontana programs. Kaler and Goldstein opened with Brahms’s Scherzo for Violin and Piano in C minor, WoO posth.2, F.A.E. Goldstein with exactness provided needed rhythmic undergirding, while Kaler’s violin conveyed the dreamy sweet passages, resulting in a short, enjoyable selection.
Peled and Goldstein followed with Brahms’s exciting Sonata No. 2 , for Cello and Piano in F Major, Op. 99. This four-movement work began with the cello rummaging in its lower registers where the tone was especially rich and mellow. In upper ranges, Peled was less successful in producing appealing tones until later in the program when he used the cello like a singing human voice.
Peled was wonderfully attuned to Brahms’s romantic idiom, bowing with brio to emphasize the score’s dramatic elements. Goldstein played with impressive nuance and articulation. Together they created voluptuous music in the two last movements, with the pianist rhythmically brilliant and the cellist propelling melody energetically.
Brahms’s magnificent Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major, Op. 8 proved the program’s apex. Each of four movements offered moments of stunning beauty. Goldstein delicately provided our entry into an aural heaven, where Peled rendered melody with unsurpassed loveliness. Kaler and Peled joined forces for incredibly lovely duet passages. Meanwhile, Goldstein excelled with brilliant technique and empathetic attention to his colleagues’ lines.
The cello’s role in the third movement effectively simulated a beating heart — all toward creating an ineffable sadness. Peled’s involvement in the music was evident throughout. The brilliance of Brahms’s compositional mastery shone brightly in the final movement where Romanticism was epitomized in repeated passages of yearning.
Saturday’s elegant concert was astonishingly affecting, rousing the audience to demand (and receive) an encore, the slow movement from a Beethoven string trio.