Chausson: Piano Trio in G Minor, Op.3
Caspar Vos: Piano
Diamanda La Berge: Violin
Marcus van den Munckhof: Cello
As I was suffering through a dreadfully hot and muggy summer in New York a couple of months ago, I figured that the universe was telling me that the time had come to plan a trip to Northern Europe that would not only allow me to cool off, but also to remove one significant item from my bucket list: Although I had attended performances of the prestigious Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Washington and New York in the past, I had always wanted to experience a concert of theirs on their home turf too, and explore Amsterdam by the same token.
After careful consideration of many factors, I decided – maybe a little extravagantly – to go to Amsterdam and Berlin for ten days in September, which presented the double advantage of good weather and no scheduling conflict with my cultural calendar in New York. Even better, I made sure that my stay in Amsterdam coincided with the Concertgebouw's season opening performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 2 AND one of their free Wednesday lunchtime concerts with Chausson's Piano Trio in G Minor. Because why settle for just one treat when you can get two?
The orchestra's reputation being of the most sterling, the beautiful small concert hall of the Concertgebouw quickly filled up with locals and tourists alike, whether they showed up out of curiosity, for the love of classical music or more prosaically seeking shelter from the unseasonal mid-day heat outside (So much for cooling off!).
Written when Ernest Chausson was a 26-year-old Paris Conservatory student who had just finished studying with Jules Massenet and was moving on to César Franck, the Piano Trio in G Minor never fails to impress by its scope and maturity. On Wednesday, played by such distinguished musicians in such a conducive space, it could only convert newcomers and enthrall aficionados, and I bet it easily managed to do both.
The extensive Allegro, which intensely unfolded with complex harmonies, subtle dark hues and an infectious élan, was spell-bounding from the very first notes. By contrast, the Intermezzo was a highly spirited romp and the Andante a delicately bucolic ballad. Probably in order to avoid the vigorous clapping that had spontaneously occurred between the previous movements, the musicians jumped right into the Finale, which started joyful and carefree before a melancholic mood fell upon it and remained there all the way to the conclusion.
Technically flawless and emotionally absorbing, the performance did complete justice to this impressive work that is unquestionably not heard as often as it deserves. And for me, that was also the perfect mouth-watering appetizer that made me look forward to the main course scheduled for that evening even more.