The piano trio is a very interesting chamber music formation: It offers plenty of opportunities for virtuosic display by its members, although the presence of an instrument of such inflexible tuning as the piano often results in unbalanced performances.
Therefore, apart from having good ensemble coordination, members of such groups must be technically flawless in order to deliver the exciting classical and romantic piano trios in a satisfactory manner.
Flawless and exciting are two words that aptly describe The Tempest Trio in the opening concert of The Society of the Four Arts Sunday Concert Series. Pianist Alon Goldstein, violinist Ilya Kaler, and cellist Amit Peled offered a program that highlighted their individual strengths and close musical affinities.
They started with Ernest Bloch's Three Nocturnes for Piano Trio. Written in 1924, the work is a set of dark pieces, expertly written in order to exploit the strengths of each instrument. The Tempest Trio made a strong case for the nocturnes with a haunting and, at times, turbulent interpretation.
The somber mood shifted entirely in the next selection, the luminous Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 63 by Robert Schumann. Like many of his contemporaries, Schumann was daunted by Beethoven's large-form masterworks and was less convincing as a composer of sonatas and symphonies than as a miniaturist. The exceptions are his chamber works that combine piano with strings, a good example of which is the piano trio in case.In it, poetic ideas are interchanged with ease among performers, and the manipulation of sonata form is at once interesting and convincing. Once more, The Tempest Trio delivered the piece with a good balance of passion and control, even if they could have given the piano a more prominent role in the first movement.
The concert's second part was devoted to one work, Antonin Dvorák's Piano Trio No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 90. The so-called "Dumky" trio is the composer's most ambitious composition for the formation. It experiments with replacing the sonata form basis of chamber music with the folksy slow-fast dance pattern known as dumka.The result is a fragmented work in which the composer's long-arched melodies are often interrupted by passionate episodes. Surely, the "Dumky" is more difficult to listen than Dvorák's other trios, but it is certainly musically more satisfying.
The Tempest Trio's members have the right temperament to undertake such a work, and their rendition had a convincing feeling of improvisation that was nevertheless well-controlled.
MÁRCIO BEZERRA, Special to the Daily News, Monday, December 14, 2009