Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mira Trio - All-Mendelssohn - 02/10/09

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Trio for Piano, Violin, and Cello in D minor, Op. 11
Felix Mendelssohn: Andante espressivo in E-flat Major, Op. 30 No. 1
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Andante in G Major, Op. 2, No. 1
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: "Il Saltarello Romano" (Allegro molto in A Minor), Op. 6, No. 4
Felix Mendelssohn: Piano Trio No 2 in C minor, Op. 66

Last night I was back at the Library of Congress for an all-Mendelssohn program played this time by a fairly new chamber music ensemble, the Mira Trio, which was founded in 2007. Taken its name from the giant red "stella mira" (wonderful star), they presented an appropriately shining program of works by Felix Mendelssohn, of course, but also by his sister, Fanny. Although her name has never been as big as his, she was by all accounts as much of a child prodigy as he was and dedicated her life to music as well, both as a masterful composer and a piano virtuoso.

The concert actually started with her Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in D Minor, and its freshness and spontaneity were a sure reminder of her brother's best work, with an added touch of her own free spiritedness. All three instruments blended harmoniously together, with the expressive cello discreetly standing out now and then.
After this remarkable introduction, we got treated to three Songs Without Words for piano by the ensemble's pianist, Byron Schenkman, and this mini-recital gave us a chance to appreciate three sparkling little gems, Fanny's Saltarello Romano being unmistakably reminiscent of the famous Finale of her brother's Italian Symphony in all its straightforward joyfulness. The pianist literally made his instrument sing these short but so enjoyable pieces, and turned what could have a mere set of trifles into a brilliant interlude.
The trio back on the stage, we wrapped up the evening with the birthday boy's Piano Trio No 2 in C Minor, another example of his unlimited gift for deeply musical composition. This was an multi-faceted firework of finesse and lyricism, and the perfect way to end another Mendessohn's celebration while looking forward to the next one.

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