The widely traveled Trio Horszowski, currently the Trio-in-Residence at Bard College’s Longy School of Music, made their New York debut in 2011 and, from the start, impressed many with their intensity – both classical and contemporary – as well as by its scale. and imaginary. Trio members Jesse Mills, violinist; Rieko Aizawa, pianist and Ole Akahoshi, cellist, are back to traveling life with more than one concert a week since last New Year. The musicians are inspired by tradition – Aizawa was the last student of pianist Mieczysław Horszowki – and find intriguing blends of contemporary compositions with older works. This year, the ensemble presents four thematic concerts here in Cambridge; the second, “Circle of Inspiration,” delighted us with a thoughtful connection through Schumaniana and the world premiere of Fantasy by Paul Chihara, Aka TomboWhere red dragonflyexpanded from its 2020 version. Mills, the eloquent violinist, who also composes and arranges, presented the program for the evening with information on his selections and Chihara’s borrowings and homages from Schumann.
Akahoshi, who replaced the group’s original cellist, Raman Ramakrishnan, impressed with his truly magnificent “cellismo” tone, as well as Aizawa’s masterful collaboration in Schumann. fancy pieces Opus 73 for cello and piano, which soars lyrically. Written over two days in 1849 for clarinet and piano, Schumann noted at the time that cello or violin could also feature. The three emotionally charged short pieces—Delicate and expressive (Tender and with Expression); Lively, Light (Vivid, Light) and fast and fiery (Quick and with Fire)— can move us to tears, especially with this cellist.
Chihara based the name and themes of Aka Tombo, in part, to what might be Japan’s most popular tune, an evocative and melancholic melody. Chihara, 84, who lives in the same New York neighborhood as Mills and Aizawa (who are married), delightfully took to the stage to exhibit the work. Rofū Miki released his songbook, Shinjujima (Pearl Island) a little over a century ago, and the first musical version came from Kozak Yamada in 1927. Developed and integrated into a traditional trio fantasy with melodies by Robert Schumann as well, it imparts a peaceful ambience but sadly nostalgic. Chikara noted that his Fantasy includes both touches of Yamada’s melody and the soul of Schumann and Brahms.
Clara Schumann wrote her Piano Trio in G minor, Opus 17 in 1817, about two years before her husband’s trio, and supposedly inspired it. His work, with its expansive melodies, delivered with sensitive phrasing, capped off the evening wonderfully. The opening Allegro Moderato, though filled with lyrical phrasing, has moments of discordant and martial flavor; given the rhythm and form of the movement, the band couldn’t find a way to avoid this uncomfortable aspect. I found the rest of the work more enjoyable. The Scherzo, Tempo di Menuetto must be sustained by the pianist, and Aizawa’s kind playing did just that. The third movement, Andante, with its almost almost tearful piano introduction, becomes more dogged as the strings add their effect. The final Allegretto offers easier listening moments than the development, although it has interwoven contrapuntal sections. The Trio’s phrasing acquitted the Allegretto well.
Violinist Mills has already had two Grammy nominations. I suspect that one of these days he will have one, and the whole group too. Longy will host the energetic and gifted ensemble twice more this season.
Julie Ingelfinger studied piano at the Hartt School of Music, the Aspen Music Festival and School, and Harvard. She enjoys her day jobs as a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, pediatric nephrologist at Mass General Hospital for Children, and associate editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.
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