Barry Plaxen’s Review of the Hermitage Piano Trio
By Barry Plaxen
September 15, 2016
The new Bethel Woods collaboration with Shandelee Music Festival, P.L.A.Y.: The Classics, began with An Evening of Chamber Music with the Hermitage Piano Trio on September 15, 2016, the trio’s third consecutive year performing for Shandelee. P.L.A.Y stands for “Peace, Love, Arts, You!”
The Elegie, Op. 23 by Josef Suk, a short six minutes or so funeral lament in three sections, written to honor Czech playwright Julius Zeyer, opened the program. A moving piece, it is gentle and meditative.
Mendelssohn’s Trio No. 2 in C minor, op. 66 followed. Dedicated to composer Ludwig “Louis” Spohr, the four movement work is mature, dramatic, sometimes restless, sometimes passionate, and even “simple”, as in the second movement, and sparkling, as in the third movement.
The program closed with one of the most beloved piano trios in the repertoire, Dvorak’s Piano Trio No. 4 “Dumky” in E minor, Op.90. Though arguably his most popular chamber work, it is not written with his usual traditional forms that he retained from the classical and early romantic periods. The sections are like ballads, “Dumkas” (Slavonic songs), that differ in emotion, mood and color.
The performing trio, Misha Keylin, violin; Sergei Antonov, cello; and Ilya Kazantsev, piano, are a somewhat ‘formidable’ triumvirate: very powerful and deserving of attention and respect. After hearing them perform before, their impressive playing came as no surprise. Each a soloist in his own right, they imbue their chosen selections with much technical power, inspired phrasing and, most importantly, emotion that is deeply and easily communicated to the audience. In many ways, their performances can be considered world class.
Their well-earned standing ovation promoted a lovely encore that many in the audience knew but hadn’t heard in a long while: Estrelita, a song that was highly popular in the early and mid-20thcentury, and that was sung by both classical and popular singers (including Deanna Durbin!), composed by the very prolific composer Manuel Ponce.
Our thanks go to the three outstanding artists for a wonderful evening of music.