IN: Reviews

Romancing the Catskills


The piano trio genre is this listener’s favorite repertoire, and the Horszowski Trio did not disappoint at the Maverick on Sunday. The threesome erected two tent poles of the Romantic chamber music repertoire, Schumann’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 63, and Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 49, with positively orchestral, full-bodied and grand tones.

In Schumann’s supercharged masterpiece of full-blooded Romanticism, ensemble dug deep into its fervency. The enchanting effect well suited to the heat of the afternoon. The Horszowski took the second movement Scherzo at a brisk tempo, its abundant dotted figurations providing forward propulsion, the slower trio allowing for a bit of relaxation before the gloriously melodic slow movement. It came as a bit of a surprise to be reminded of the reversal of the scherzo-and-trio and the slow movement. Was Schumann playing with our expectations? The finale, marked Mit Feur (“With Fire”) provided a thrilling end to the beginning.

The first half also included two short non-tonal pieces by the prominent and prolific Wang Jie, who, like the members of the Trio, studied at the Curtis Institute of Music. Shadow, a collection of miniatures, depicted a day in the life of an autistic child. Faded Colors, took its inspiration from De Colores, a Spanish-language folk song popular throughout Latin America and associated with a Roman Catholic evangelical movement.

Mendelssohn’s D Minor Trio features one of the most ferociously demanding piano parts in the entire chamber music canon. Rieko Aizawa dispatched it with terrific élan, and the other members of the trio — violinist Jesse Mills and cellist Ole Akahoshi — never slacked either, even in the work’s softer passages. During the quieter moments, the Horszowski’s sound carried out into the woodland with splendid intensity and focus.

Gigantic, silent ceiling fans at the Maverick did a great job, kept the air moving and the temperature quite pleasant. There’s really no better place on the planet to hear chamber music.

Mary Fairchild lives in Rosendale, New York, after a long career as a host at WQXR, WNYC, WMHT (Schenectady), and WPLN (Nashville). She has for some 20 years been writing program notes for Vladimir Feltsman’s PianoSummer at New Paltz. Before being called by Kalliope, the Muse of Eloquence and of Writing About Music, she worked as a financial editor and manager of investor relations in Wall Street.

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