Review: November 15, 2002

Helix Dazzles Audiences

by Edward Reichel, Deseret News music critic
Deseret News [UT]
November 15, 2002

TRIPLE HELIX, Madsen Recital Hall, Nov. 14
PROVO — Even though Boston-based Triple Helix is a fairly new piano trio, its members have many years of experience playing chamber music. Pianist Lois Shapiro has collaborated with numerous artists. And violinist Bayla Keyes and cellist Rhonda Rider founded and were long-term members of, respectively, the Muir and Lydian String Quartets.

Thursday night, Triple Helix was in Brigham Young University’s Madsen Recital Hall for a concert of well-chosen music by Bright Sheng, Beethoven and Brahms. The three musicians dazzled their audience with playing that exhibited superb musicianship, refined virtuosity and remarkable collaborative skills.

The group opened the concert with Sheng’s “Four Movements for Piano Trio” from 1990. The Chinese-American composer brings new life to Western music through his innovative approach to the instruments and through his imaginative blending of Western and Chinese elements. The outer movements in Sheng’s piece are evocative and reflective in character. There is also a strong sense of spirituality running through them. The second movement is compelling for the drama it creates, while the third is almost Stravinskian in its drive and restless vitality.

Triple Helix followed with Beethoven’s Trio in E flat major, op. 1, no. 1. The musicians imbued their interpretation with an exuberance that brought out the youthful vibrancy of the work. The opening movement in the Beethoven was forceful in the way they presented the sharp contrasts in attacks and dynamics that give the music its character. In the second movement, the group brought out its classical structure with their nuanced playing and succinct articulation. The finale, with its abrupt contrasts and pauses, showed Beethoven at one of his most playful moments. The three musicians gave a colorful reading of this delightful movement that ends the work in a spirit of carefree abandon.

The second half of the concert was devoted to Brahms’ weighty Trio No. 2 in C major, op. 87. Triple Helix played this magnificent work superbly. Particularly touching was the emotional reading of the slow movement. They brought out the moody earnestness of the music with their profoundly penetrating performance.

As an encore, Triple Helix played the bouncy and humor-filled first movement from Paul Schoenfield’s “Cafe Music.”