Sunday, 5 May 2013

Live Review: Reiner Trio (March 30th 2013)

Reiner Trio
Virtuosi Concerts
Eckhardt-Grammaté Hall
March 30th 2013
Four stars

Reviewed by Paul R. McCulloch

On Saturday night, the Montreal-based Reiner Trio – violinist Laurence Kayaleh, cellist Elizabeth Dolin and pianist Paul Stewart – gave Virtuosi Concerts patrons the opportunity to hear some rarely-heard pieces, all by Slavic composers. The evening was just what the doctor ordered for a seemingly interminable winter in which the trio’s performances, so full of energy and life, were enthusiastically welcomed by the Winnipeg audience.

Stewart introduced Rachmaninoff’s Trio elegiaque No. 1 in G minor, a dramatic and emotional start to what would prove to be an immensely satisfying program, with a nod to the work’s elusive origins – the piece was written in the last decade of the 19th century and went virtually unnoticed until 1947, when its first edition was finally published.

Needless to say, it was a thrill to hear. Kayaleh and Dolin’s urgent strings played both with and against Stewart’s versatile piano, which navigated the piece’s countless twists and turns with flair and ease. Each artist alone seemed to be an organic extension of their instrument; together, the musicians’ chemistry was magical.    

The intelligently-structured program gave each artist the chance to showcase their abilities both individually and within the context of a trio. Stewart and Dolin came together on Chopin’s Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano, Op. 65, which the composers collaborated on with, and dedicated the piece to, cellist Auguste Franchomme. The opening Allegro moderato established a dialogue between the two instruments, Stewart’s nimble piano lines rising to meet Dolin’s dulcet cello tones as the two began an exquisitely-composed courtship. Scherzo – allegro con brio, which incorporated elements of a mazurka – a nod to Chopin’s Polish heritage – featured beautifully complex and full-bodied work from Dolin, who captured the uniquely modern style and spirit of the movement.

Largo, a love duet between two instruments, was romantic and delightful; Stewart’s melodious piano played the part of a shy gentleman resolved to win the heart of the headstrong woman embodied by Dolin’s cello, a quest fulfilled in the movement’s final, gorgeous, faded notes. No sooner had the audience caught their breath than the duo surged forward into the lively Finale – Allegro, in which dazzling bow-work and richly-hued piano built toward a triumphant and ovation-worthy finish.

Kayaleh joined Stewart for an exceptional rendition of Dvorák’s Four Romantic Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 75. These “four little jewels,” as the violinist described them in an introduction, demonstrated Kayaleh’s impressive range and intuitive command of her instrument. She made the agile and powerful rhythms of Allegro maestoso come alive, mesmerized the audience during the extraordinary Allegro appassionato a movement that concluded with a dazzling display of pizzicato – and, over Stewart’s fluid piano, brought the intricate melancholy of Larghetto to a place of pure emotion.

The trio came together once more for Anton Arensky’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 32. Stewart noted that the Russian composer wrote the piece two years after his pupil Rachmaninoff’s death and dedicated it to the memory of cellist Karl Davydov. Arensky’s work fittingly contained a breadth of moods and textures representative of a lifetime. Scherzo – Allegro molto featured a ‘music box’ texture, a light, playful feel and brisk tempo, whereas Elegia – Adagio, an elegy for Davydov, was mournful and touching. All this led to the energetic Finale – Allegro non troppo, where violin and cello sang together as the three players raced forward to the piece’s – and the evening’s – stunning close. Regrettably, no encore was offered.  

Update 14/06/13: You can listen to CBC Radio 2's recording of this concert here.

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