The Asheville Chamber Music Series closed its 60th concert season with a performance by world renowned Trio Solisti at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville. The trio, consisting of violinist Maria Bachmann, cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach, and pianist Jon Klibonoff performed an astonishing set of three trios that captivated the audience from beginning to end.
The Trio opened with the rarely performed Piano Trio No. 2 in B minor by Joaquín Turina. This wonderful work received a delicate, passionate, and intimate treatment that suits such a romantic work. From the very first note, the audience was entranced by the wondrous music these fantastic players made. With each and every phrase perfectly together each player seemed to only be a part of one whole instrument. There were many times when Ms. Bachmann and Ms. Gerlach had phrases that intersected and wove around each other throughout the entire concert, and it was in these moments that the two ceased to be anything but purely expressive beings. Mr. Klibonoff’s playing as a whole was something that I have rarely heard from a pianist, his dynamic and melodic flexibility certainly is part of the core of what makes Trio Solisti great.
To close the first half the trio played Beethoven’s famous “Archduke” Trio. The group played the entire four-movement work with great skill, but I feel as though they did not necessarily enjoy it as much as the Turina, or the Chausson performed later. Admittedly, this trio calls for a much more rigid style of playing, especially in the second and fourth movements which call for abrupt changes in attitude and style. The first movement was characteristically noble, in such a way as to make one think they were in the Archduke’s castle itself. The Scherzo was lighthearted and boisterous, which let the trio members express themselves in a way which seemed more attuned to their own style. The sweet cantabile which was the third movement again had a noble, church-like quality to it that I felt in some ways suppressed the energy and life Trio Solisti is capable of delivering. However, during the fourth movement, all bets were off, with the trio playing with the jovial, yet noble attitude which Beethoven intended to capture within the work.
The entire second half of the program consisted solely of the fascinating Piano Trio in G minor from French composer Ernest Chausson. Heavily influenced by the likes of Franck and Massenet, this work is incredibly rich and full of lush harmonies and melodies. Solisti played not only their instruments, but the heartstrings of the audience with this dark and emotive work. From beginning to end you could see and hear the passion the players felt, and it made for a wonderful, astounding performance. The first movement opened with a dark, arresting theme, perfectly suited to what Solisti can do. From there the piece only got better, with a light scherzo second movement and a sweet third movement. Undoubtedly, the fourth movement was the greatest moment of the night. Through the cunning manipulation of the cyclical themes throughout the work, Trio Solisti demonstrated the true essence of musicianship, giving the audience an emotional experience that few groups can achieve.
Trio Solisti is a younger group that has already garnered a great deal on the world’s stage. From The Wall St. Journal to Musical America, the group has received high praise, and I can do no more but add my own voice to that praise. Trio Solisti has several albums available for purchase, so if you cannot see them live, the investment is most certainly worth it.