Trio Tremonti performed eloquent songs of joy, despair

Trio Tremonti, which appeared on the music scene in 2012, may not be on the radar screen of many chamber music fans but assuredly they are worth being there, based on the fine performance offered Tuesday in the Williamsburg Library Theatre, courtesy of the Chamber Music Society of Williamsburg.

Although each member of the trio (Saul Bitran, violin, Jan Muller-Szeraws, cello, Sally Pinkas, piano) has extensive and highly impressive international experience, Tremonti seems to be focusing its performance efforts in the United States. Currently, the trio plays largely in New England and has expanded to Washington State. Their appearance in Williamsburg is the geographic outpost for Tremonti's tour, which made this somewhat a real find for us.

Appealing both in terms of playing and programming, this was a most satisfying event. The fare consisted of three works: Mozart's Trio No. 3 in B-flat Major (one of the finest works for piano trio ever penned), Shostakovich's Trio No. 2 in E Minor, and Dvorak's Trio No. 2 in G Minor.

The Tremonti's blend of sound among the three instruments was quite fine, equal partners in allowing the ebb and flow of musical lines to do just that. The results were notably cohesive and symbiotic in the sense of music making, each sort of an extension of the other. With a collective awareness of musical nuance, the Tremonti's compatible sense of technical and artistic expertise was rewarding and contributed to the appreciation of this fine evening.

The Mozart is a happy piece in which the opening and closing movements exuded sunshine. In between was an exquisitely written Larghetto, the lyrical lines and sublime quality of which provided a delicacy only found in Mozart. Although occasionally the piano seemed to get the upper hand, literally, in balance, the overall impact was cheerful and well crafted.

On the opposite spectrum of emotions was the Shostakovich. The E Minor brilliantly captures the weighty essence of the soul, the depth of despair found during conflict (World War II), and longing. The inherent implications are stunning.

It's a somber piece with long lyrical, if not dissonant, passages and more lively ones that take on a dance of death quality. From the eerie cello-produced harmonics in the opening, through the frenzied scherzo and the mournful variations in the largo to the closing allegretto with its recapitulation of previous themes and Jewish folk melodies, the work's performance was extraordinarily moving as its themes eloquently commented on the inhumanity of man and the deep emotional wounds caused by the war, Nazism and anti-Semitism.

This emotional and virtuosic performance was one of a "hear a pin drop" on conclusion, the silence eventually giving way to boisterous cheers and a standing ovation, something normally not seen midway on a concert but here heartily deserved.

The Dvorak closed on a more upbeat note, although some scholars suggest it was written in response to his daughter's death. Agreeing with the program note, the work seems not to reflect despair from loss. Rather it's a work of emotional highs and lows and fast and furious and richly lyrical moments that settles quite comfortably on the ear and offers a joyful experience, as was this performance by Trio Tremonti.

Shulson, a Williamsburg resident, has been covering the arts for over 40 years. He makes a guest appearnce in Margaret Truman's "Murder at the Opera."

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