TRIO SOLISTI with AMY BURTON, SOPRANO, Libby Gardner Concert Hall, University of Utah, Jan. 22
Most chamber musicians are quite content playing the standard repertoire for their respective ensembles. Others like to expand and explore new territory. The members of Trio Solisti (violinist Maria Bachmann, cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach, pianist Jon Klibonoff) belong to the latter category. They enjoy doing a lot more than just the standard war horses of the piano trio literature – as Salt Lake audiences know.
The last time the trio was in town they played Klibonoff’s arrangement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. For their return visit to Libby Gardner Concert Hall – once again as part of the Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City’s offerings – they brought with them soprano Amy Burton.
Trio Solisti and Burton have collaborated a number of times in the past and have also recorded together. One of the pieces they recorded a few years ago was on Tuesday’s concert: American composer Paul Moravec’s Vita Brevis, a setting of five poems by various writers that describes a person’s journey from birth to death.
Moravec writes in an easy listening style that is unabashedly tonal and appealing in its lyricism. Burton and the trio gave a nuanced account of the piece that underscored the lyrical quality of the music.
They followed the Moravec with a set of five Irish and Scottish folk song settings by Beethoven. These are rarely done and show the composer in a different light. Beethoven deftly blends the folk element of the melodies with a decidedly classical accompaniment that is charming. These are simple arrangements, unusual only for the fact that Beethoven has a piano trio accompany the singer rather than just a piano. Burton and the trio once again gave a captivating reading of these infectious songs.
Burton also sang Schubert’s glorious Shepherd on the Rock, but in a version that replaces the clarinet with violin. It works well in this format. Burton captured the lyricism of the music with her expressive singing, which was balanced nicely with Bachmann’s sensitive playing and Klibonoff’s understated accompaniment.
There were also a couple of actual piano trios on the program as well.
The concert opened with Beethoven’s early Fourteen Variations, op. 44. The three players captured the classicism of the piece with their cleanly articulated and crisply defined phrasings and execution.
The evening ended with Chausson’s Piano Trio in G minor, op. 3. The trio, while an early work, has all the characteristics of Chausson’s style – French melodicism balanced with dense, lush Franckian textures. This is a wonderful work that isn’t played as often as it deserves. Trio Solisti gave a vibrant, impassioned reading that emphasized the often rugged lyricism of the work. Particularly noteworthy was the slow movement; they three played it with gorgeously crafted expressiveness, seamless lines and eloquent phrasings.
(Click here to read Ed Reichel’s review of Trio Solisti’s new Dvorák CD.)