Saturday, April 25, 2009

Geringas Baryton Trio - Tomasini, Haydn and Rossini - 04/24/09

Tomasini: Baryton Trio in C Major
Haydn: Duetto in D for 2 Barytons, hob. X: 11
Haydn: Baryton Trio in C Major, Hob. XI: 82
Rossini: Duet for Cello and Contrabass
Haydn: Baryton Trio in D Major, Hob. XI: 97

Friday night at the Library of Congress is always a special treat, but yesterday's concert provided pleasure AND enlightment as we were introduced to the baryton, courtesy of Haydn and his employer, Prince Nicolaus Esterhazy. The instrument, a combination of viola da gamba and bandora, or more simply a weird-looking cello, is quite a sight, but its popularity never spread very far. Luckily, we had an esteemed expert in renowned cellist and conductor David Geringas, accompanied by violist Hartmut Rohde and cellist Hens-Peter Maintz, all there to perform three pieces by Haydn as well as some works by his Italian connection, Tomasini and Rossini, for what ended up being an unusual but delightful evening.

Tomasini started the concert and immediately packed an elegant punch. The music was happy and refined, and a nice example of the divertimenti that were all the rage at the time.
During the three pieces by Haydn, one duet and two trios, things got even better. The trios were played with an impressive balance among the three instruments and the richly dark tones were beautifully integrated. The duet was quick-witted and fun.
For me, the highlight came with Rossini and his Duet for Cello and Contrabass, which has been arranged for two cellos by Werner Thomas-Mifune. Obviously drawing from his melodic talent, he wrote a sharp little piece whose spirited banter is occasionally quieted by light-hearted pizzicatos, along with some discreetly lyrical moments for the baryton.

For the encores, we stayed in Italy for a very engaging concerto by Boccherini, and another crowd-pleaser of a divertimento by Paganini. In the course of this joyful piece, the violist finally got to stand up, take center stage and display all his impressive virtuoso skills.

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