|Beethoven:||Sonata No. 3 in A Major, Op. 69|
|Shostakovich:||Sonata in D Minor, Op. 40|
|Brahms:||Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8|
Uri Vardi, cello
David Perry, violin
Christopher Taylor, piano
A larger audience than usual turned out Friday evening for what proved to be a fine evening of chamber music at Mills Hall. Obviously unplanned, and for me a first in all these years of concert-going, Taylor and Vardi were tuning up before beginning, when Taylor suddenly got up, conferred briefly with Vardi, and announced to the audience, "I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, this is the wrong piano." Stage hands quickly put a different Steinway in place and the program got underway.
The opening movement of Beethoven's Sonata in A Major, Op. 69 showed clean articulations and a good tempo, though the ensemble was here and there a bit fuzzy. Small ensemble problems also continued in the scherzo, though the greater disturbance here was Taylor's tendency to stomp with his left foot, a behavioral quirk of his unique playing style that unfortunately distracted considerably from his otherwise fascinating playing in all three works on this fine program. The adagio cantabile that begins the Beethoven's final movement certainly would have benefitted from a greater sense of mystery, though the main material, allegro vivace went very, very well.
Intonation problems cropped up in the Shostakovich Sonata in D Minor, Op. 40, but were not so serious as to mar an excellent performance of this wonderful work. One of Vardi's assets is the elegance of his bowing, which is very clean and very precise. Overall, one might preferred a larger cello sound, which would have matched the very prominent piano role here a bit better. Though the playing was exemplary in all of the sonata's four movements, the largo was outstandingly beautiful.
The Brahms Trio in B Major, Op. 8, even more than the two preceding works, placed a greater emphasis on brilliance than on sheer beauty of sound. The result was a matter-of-fact quality in the fast playing, I felt. But against that this is a work of considerable brilliance, here very well served, above all in the flashing concluding allegro. As so often happens, the slow movement was by far the best playing of the whole evening.
Madison Music Review, October, 2001
Copyright 2001 Jess Anderson