Review: August 12, 2000

Trio Interweaves Musical Lines at the Clark

By Elsbet Wayne, Special to The Eagle
The Berkshire Eagle
August 12, 2000

WILLIAMSTOWN — Now in its 13th season, Williamstown Chamber Concerts, held at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, is reaching for more and more outstanding soloists and ensembles. Tuesday’s second concert of the current season introduced the Triple Helix ensemble to the local audience.

The trio was a revelation. Each member is a seasoned artist. Their sensitive interaction stresses the most minute emotional and technical nuances in their readings.

Beethoven’s Piano Trio in C minor, Op. I, No. 3, and Brahms’ Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8 received the same emotional involvement as did their recently commissioned ‘Motion’ by Ross Bauer, which was cradled between the two traditional pieces. The playing was tantalizingly alive.

Helix is a “dynamic intertwining and interdependence of spiraling energies” and interweaving of musical lines of which the threesome gave a fine example.

The members of the Triple Helix — violinist Bayla Keyes, formerly of the Muir String Quartet; cellist Rhonda Rider, who also plays as a member of the Lydian String Quartet; and pianist Lois Shapiro — were more than alive. Their readings were challengingly shaped and filled with unusually smooth ensemble play. In each score they extracted the drama of vascillating moods and contrasting episodes. Emotional contrasts of alternating lyricism — the cello in the opening Beethoven — were offset by sudden bursts of fortissimo chords and velocitous chromatic runs throughout the C minor Trio.

Interestingly, both Beethoven’s and Brahms’ Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8, are their composers’ youthful works, written when each was in his early 20s. Even though Tuesday’s reading was Brahms’ revision of 1889, it retains the yearning and the fervor also found in Beethoven.

“Motion,” written in 1998, is characteristic for a late 20th century style. Abandoning romantic leanings as well as clashing harmonies, one hears a certain amount of pleasant dissonance in short, fragmented statements, to make the music come alive.

Spiced with eerie harmonies and duets for the strings, Bauer, present for the performance, explained his attempt to communicate joy. What he received from the trio was some very animated and joyful playing.

Bauer was a fellow at Tanglewood where he studied with Luciano Berio. While not yet displacing one of the three ‘Bs’ (Bach, Beethoven and Brahms), the caliber of his music points toward more recent 20th century Bs — Bartok and Britten.

The Triple Helix played to a most appreciative and large audience who rewarded them with a standing ovation.