Streeton Trio regulars Emma Jardine and Benjamin Kopp were joined by cellist Trish O’Brien to play two classic pieces acknowledged as two of the best chamber music pieces ever composed. While both composed for piano, violin, and cello, the pieces varied greatly in style and formed a charming pair for a concert.
Opening with Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Archduke” Piano Trio, Jardine spoke about it as a personal favourite of the trio and of many classical audiences. When it was originally composed, Beethoven performed it at a concert and received such harsh criticism that he never performed in public again. The four movements work separately from each other to create a discordant overall piece where each instrument is allowed a time centre stage.
The first movement began the concert somewhat uncomfortably as a piecemeal composition with the piano seemingly playing outside of the duet between violin and cello. There was more synthesis in the second movement as the rhythm pumped along like a heartbeat. Things slowed and became more melancholic in the third movement which again saw the piano fall behind the strings. Here it was as though the cello and violin were in competition, mirroring and repeating each other like an argument. The entire piece bounced dramatically between soft buzzing notes and sharper, dissonant sounds.
Perhaps the favourite of the two chamber compositions, or at least the most well known of the two, was the second piece “Piano Trio in E flat major” from Franz Schubert. Also written in four movements, Kopp introduced the piece as conventional Schubert in the use of repetition and falling tones which sound like questions or reminders occurring throughout the aural narrative.
With Schubert’s trio, the instruments skitter across and into each other, weaving into conversations and competitions climbing to dizzying heights and falling dramatically back down again. The strings’ mirroring becomes a march that builds into a race while the piano maintains the tension underneath. The third movement stands out as a lighter, freer composition with an airiness to the violin playing above the two others. The final movement is big, dramatic, a climactic ending to what feels like a continuous narrative. The final notes are sweeping and languid before settling into silence like dancers at the end of a long evening.
Streeton Trio are conservative in their playing, reserved and somewhat distant from the music as though allowing the pieces to speak for themselves. The two choices of classic trios for this concert demonstrated the group’s strength in playing as one, even while seeming to play the instruments against each other. They are a trio in harmony with what their pieces require for faithful production.
This Classics concert of Beethoven and Schubert with Trish O’Brien was the last concert of 2018 for Streeton Trio but keep an eye out for their 2019 plans.