Mendelssohn: Song without Words in D Major for cello and piano, Op. 109
Beethoven: Piano Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 97, "Archduke"
Mendelssohn: Piano Quartet No 3 in B Minor, Op. 3
Another trip to the Library of Congress, another Mendelssohn-centric concert, although this time we also got to hear Beethoven's Archduke. Still young, but boasting of an already pretty impressive international career, the Trio con Brio Copenhagen was a welcome addition to the Mendelssohn festivities, and their guest artist, renowned violist James Durham from the no less renowned Cleveland Quartet, among many other endeavors, made last night's program even more attractive.
The opening piece from Mendelssohn was another one of his wonderful Songs Without Words, and eased our minds into concert mood. The lovely duet between the piano and the cello was perfectly balanced and delivered a gentle, very satisfying appetizer to the more substantial fares that were to follow.
Archduke is a milestone not only as Beethoven's final piano trio composition, but also as representing the end of his career as a solo pianist. The master, of course, made sure to go with a bang, and this trio remains one of the masterpieces of the genre, to which the three musicians seemed totally determined to do it justice. It started with a refined first movement, followed by a Scherzo marked with quite a few fierce passages. The Andante displayed restrained playfulness before a Finale full of exhilarating outbursts. Right on!
Back to Mendelssohn, his Piano Quartet No 3 in B Minor, which he composed when he was sixteen and dedicated to Goethe, certainly made more than one allusion to Beethoven, but is nevertheless already representative of his own emerging style. Featuring our special guest on the cello, the ensemble played it with vigor and refinement, and beautifully concluded yet another very festive evening.