in: Reviews

July 28, 2014

Big Trio Gives Big Performance

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Latitude 41, an international piano trio, gave a remarkable performance at Maverick Concerts on Sunday. Its Schubert may not have been the most idiomatic, but it was arresting. Russell Platt’s Duo proved quite worthwhile. And the Dvořák it played was not the “Dumky” Trio!
The ensemble’s approach to Schubert’s Trio No. 2, in E-flat Major, D. 929, was almost startling in its intensity. I will admit that I like to hear Schubert with more gentleness and intimacy, but this group played as if they were roaring into late Beethoven, with very wide dynamics and great power. When it wanted to, Latitude 41 did play very gently, as in the Andante, so it’s not as if the group has any lack of range. And although the pianist played full out with the lid up, there were never any balance problems. This might not have been my favorite Schubert performance, because of its style. But I wound up with tremendous respect for what the group accomplished, giving us an interpretation which eventually won me over.

Latitude 41 (file photo)

Latitude 41 (file photo)

Since music of Russell Platt shows up occasionally on Maverick programs, the fact that he is the twin brother of Maverick’s Music Director Alexander Platt is obviously relevant. But I’ve always felt that Russell’s music was worthy of being heard, and that applied vehemently to his Duo for Violin and Cello, composed in 2008 for members of Brooklyn Rider. This single movement–in traditional sonata-allegro form, with a mandatory exposition repeat, as the composer pointed out in his introduction–combines elements of dissonant motor energy and lyricism in an intriguing way. I found it provocative and entertaining and I’d love to hear it again.

Dvořák is one of the most underestimated composers in all of classical music. Yes, everyone knows him, but in general we hear only a small fraction of his output, as if, for example, the three trios other than the famous “Dumky” were worthless. Latitude 41 gladdened my heart by playing the Trio No. 3, in F Minor, Op. 65, as excellent a piece as Dvořák ever wrote. Again, the performance was very intense. You could fairly have called it Brahmsian in style, which was perfectly appropriate. There was plenty enough contrast in the playing, and the finale had all the brio called for in its “Allegro con brio” marking. The audience roared its approval persistently enough to bring an encore even after this lengthy program, one of Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Op. 88, performed with memorable tenderness.

Leslie Gerber, who lives in Woodstock, New York, has been reviewing professionally since 1966, for such venues as Performance Today, Fanfare, and Amazon.com. He also publishes the Parnassus Records label.

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